Filter Stories By

Forgetfulness or Dementia – How to Know When to Be Concerned About a Loved One

As we navigate the complexities of aging, one of the most pressing concerns for many is the possibility of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a topic that often brings anxiety and uncertainty, particularly when faced with the question: Is it just normal forgetfulness or something more serious?

In a recent Empowered by Hoag Podcast episode, Dr. Lauren Bennett, director of neuropsychology at Hoag’s nationally ranked Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute, sheds light on this important issue. Here’s a breakdown of key insights from the discussion:

Is It Normal Forgetfulness?

Losing keys, misplacing wallets—these are everyday occurrences for many of us. But when does forgetfulness cross the line into something more concerning? Dr. Bennett suggests asking whether this behavior is a change for the individual. If it’s a departure from their usual habits, it may warrant further attention. Additionally, the ability to retrace steps and find misplaced items can provide valuable clues.

Age and Risk Factors

Age plays a significant role in assessing the likelihood of dementia. While it’s rare for someone in their 30s to develop cognitive impairment, individuals in their 60s and 70s face higher risks, particularly if there’s a family history of dementia. Understanding these age-related factors can help differentiate between normal aging and potential warning signs.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia encompasses a range of etiologies, or causes, that can result in cognitive impairments that interfere with daily functioning. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but there are many types, including vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. Recognizing the diversity of dementia subtypes is crucial in accurate diagnosis and treatment planning.

Prevention and Early Intervention

For those concerned about dementia, proactive steps can make a difference. Dr. Bennett emphasizes the importance of lifestyle factors such as regular physical exercise, social engagement, cognitive activity, and quality sleep. Managing chronic health conditions and monitoring mood symptoms are also vital components of dementia prevention.

Seeking Support

If a loved one is experiencing cognitive changes, it’s essential to seek professional help promptly. Hoag’s Orange County Vital Brain Program offers comprehensive evaluations for individuals aged 45 and older, providing a baseline for future comparisons. Early intervention can significantly impact the course of dementia and improve quality of life for both patients and their families.

Support Systems Matter

Caring for someone with dementia is not a solitary endeavor. Hoag provides a multidisciplinary team of experts, including neuropsychiatrists and neuropsychologists, along with family support services. Recognizing dementia as a family diagnosis underscores the importance of caregiver support and self-care.

To learn more about the diagnosis, treatment and support services offered by Hoag’s Memory & Cognitive Disorders Program, visit To listen to Dr. Bennett’s episode of the Empowered by Hoag Podcast, Is It Normal Forgetfulness or Dementia, visit