It can be difficult to know what to do if you’ve noticed changes in yourself or a family member or friend — particularly when they’re related to memory loss, thinking or behavior. It’s natural to feel uncertain about voicing your worries because that can make them seem more “real.” However, these are significant health concerns, and it's important to take action to figure out what's going on.

Print a guide to take notes:

Assess the situation

  • What changes in memory, thinking or behavior do you notice?
    What have you noticed that's out of the ordinary and causing concern?
  • What else is going on?
    Various conditions can cause short-term or long-term memory loss and affect thinking or behavior. Are there any health or lifestyle issues that could be a factor? These may include family stressors or medical problems like diabetes or depression.
  • Has anyone else noticed changes?
    Has a family member or friend expressed concerns? What did he or she notice?
  • Are any of these changes a sign or symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia?
    View the 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s to check if they’re on the list.

Start a conversation

  • Who should participate in the conversation to discuss concerns?
    If you’ve noticed changes in yourself, confide in a person you trust. If you’ve noticed changes in someone else, the person who has the conversation could be you, a trusted family member or friend or a combination of these individuals.
  • What is the best time and place to have this conversation?
    Have the conversation as soon as possible. Choose a time and location that will be comfortable for everyone involved.
  • How will you approach the conversation?
    Try the following if you’ve noticed changes in yourself:
    • I’ve noticed [blank] in myself, and I’m concerned. Have you noticed anything about me that worries you?

    Try the following if you’ve noticed changes in someone else:
    • I’ve noticed [blank] in you, and I’m concerned. Have you noticed it? Are you worried?
    • How have you been feeling lately? You haven’t seemed like yourself.
    • I noticed you [specific example], and it worried me. Has anything else like that happened?

Evaluating memory: What you can expect

It's important to visit a doctor and get evaluated when you or a family member or friend is facing memory loss concerns. Knowing what to expect can ease anxiety and help you prepare for necessary tests.

Learn about the process
  • Discuss seeing a doctor together.
    Many conditions can cause memory loss or affect thinking and behavior, so it’s important to get a full medical evaluation. If the cause isn't Alzheimer’s or another dementia, it could be a treatable condition. If it is dementia, there are many benefits to receiving an early and accurate diagnosis, including the opportunity to plan for the future, access support services and explore medication that may address some symptoms for a time.

    Many people find it helpful to bring a trusted friend or family member to the medical evaluation.

    Try the following if you’ve noticed changes in yourself:
    • I think it would give me peace of mind to see a doctor and find out what’s going on. Would you be willing to go with me for support?

    Try the following if you’ve noticed changes in someone else:
    • There are lots of things that could be causing these changes, and dementia may or may not be one of them. Let’s see if the doctor can help us figure out what’s going on.
    • The sooner we know what’s causing these problems, the sooner we can address them.
    • I think it would give us both peace of mind if we talked with a doctor.
  • If needed, have multiple conversations.
    The first conversation may not be successful. Some people attribute problems with memory, thinking or behavior to stress or normal aging and may not take your concerns seriously. Write down some notes about the experience to help you plan for the next conversation. Consider the location, day and time; what worked well and what didn’t; who was involved; the end result; and what could be done differently the next time.

Reach out for help

  • Turn to the Alzheimer’s Association for information and support.
    • Call our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900 to speak with a master’s-level clinician about your concerns and next steps.
    • Explore the Alzheimer's Association and AARP Community Resource Finder to find local resources such as a health care professional or your closest Alzheimer’s Association chapter.
    • Visit our Training and Education Center to take an online course anytime and learn more about a variety of topics related to Alzheimer’s and dementia.