Understanding Alzheimer's Disease: What You Need to Know

What are other causes of memory problems?

Linda’s story

older woman eating at table with younger woman

My neighbor Rose was always very active. She liked gardening and helping out at the local grade school. She and her husband Bob enjoyed dancing and spending time with their grandkids. After Bob passed away 2 years ago, something changed. Rose began spending a lot of time alone at home. She seemed more and more confused.

I was worried that Rose had Alzheimer’s disease and convinced her to see a doctor. It turns out that she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s. Depression and not eating well were causing her problems. After seeing a counselor, taking medicine, and eating better, she seems less confused and more like herself.

Some medical conditions cause confusion and forgetfulness. The signs may look like Alzheimer’s disease, but they are caused by other problems. Here are medical conditions that can cause serious memory problems:

  • bad reaction to certain medicines
  • emotional problems such as depression
  • not eating enough healthy foods
  • too few vitamins and minerals in your body
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • blood clots or tumors in the brain
  • head injury, such as a concussion from a fall or accident
  • kidney, liver, or thyroid problems

These medical conditions are serious and need to be treated. Once you get treatment, your confusion and forgetfulness should go away.

Publication Date: June 2011
Page Last Updated: April 27, 2017