You can’t find your keys or you forget an appointment. For many people in middle age or older, simple acts of forgetfulness like these are scary because they raise the specter of Alzheimer’s disease.
But Alzheimer’s is not the only health issue that can lead to forgetfulness, which is often treatable if you know the cause, according to the National Institute on Aging. Memory losscan happen at any age and for a number of reasons.
“Patients might experience memory loss and describe their symptoms similarly, but a doctor can tease apart what parts of the brain are affected,” says Seth Gale, MD, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
He points out things like polypharmacy (taking several medications), significant depression, and poor sleep that can lead to memory complaints. “When you drill down and find out what is actually happening with brain function, you can reassure someone. They have the capacity to learn and store information but because of their overloaded mental resources, they are having trouble,” says Dr. Gale.