The differences between Alzheimer's and forgetfulness due to age

Alzheimer's disease and age-related forgetfulness are two separate things - here are some of the ways they are different <i>(Image: Getty Images)</i>
Alzheimer's disease and age-related forgetfulness are two separate things - here are some of the ways they are different (Image: Getty Images)

While you might be aware of Alzheimer’s and how it can unfortunately take hold of the people around us, do you know the difference between its symptoms and those of age-related forgetfulness?

Alzheimer’s is the UK’s most common cause of dementia in the UK although the cause of it isn’t fully understood yet, according to the NHS website.

The disease is most common in people aged over 65 but it can be found in younger people.

To find out more about Alzheimer’s and what to do if you think you or a loved one might be experiencing it, you can visit the NHS website.

You should see a GP if you think you are experiencing problems with planning or organising or if you’re worried about your memory.

How is Alzheimer’s different to age-related forgetfulness?

NDTV has outlined seven ways that Alzheimer’s disease is different to age-related forgetfulness.


While age-related forgetfulness is “often mild and sporadic”, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are “more severe and progressive”, the news outlet explains.

People who are forgetful due to their age may experience periods where they occasionally will forget details such as names or where they put something.

Alzheimer’s progresses and is more severe and can lead to memory loss which is significant as well as confusion and doing familiar tasks can become difficult.

Those who experience Alzheimer’s will develop worse memory loss as time goes on.


Alzheimer’s disease gets worse over time however forgetfulness related to age tends to be stable and if it progresses, it’ll be a slow process.

NDTV adds: “Individuals with Alzheimer's experience a decline in memory, thinking, and overall cognitive function, often leading to a loss of independence and the ability to perform daily activities.”


Spatial awareness and getting lost when in familiar places can be a symptom for people with Alzheimer’s.

Time can also be harder to understand when living with Alzheimer’s including the day, date and season however such significant disorientation would rarely be experienced by someone who has age-related forgetfulness.


Finding the right words can be a difficult task for someone with Alzheimer’s and they might also struggle with following conversations or expressing themselves.

Someone with age-related forgetfulness wouldn’t typically have their language skills affected in the same way.

Changes in personality

Alzheimer’s disease can make someone change their behaviour whereas forgetfulness typically doesn’t.

NDTV said changes in behaviour can “include mood swings, irritability, aggression, social withdrawal, and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.”

Difficulty problem-solving and making decisions

Problem-solving, making decisions, planning something, managing finances or following instructions are all things someone with Alzheimer’s may find difficult.

People with age-related forgetfulness would have less-impaired cognitive abilities.

Routine tasks

Routine tasks like cooking, getting dressed, or using appliances in the home can become more and more difficult for someone with Alzheimer’s however, someone who is forgetful due to their age wouldn’t have such significant difficulties.

NDTV advises that you should see a medical professional for a diagnosis and that you must seek medical advice to receive the appropriate evaluation and care.