My mother is scaring me with her memory gaps.

My Mom is always forgetting stuff. Usually, it’s the typical old age forgetting stuff like “What did I do with my glasses?”.

Yesterday, I was talking to her on the phone. She casually mentioned to me that she bought a crock pot and can’t wait to use it as she has never used one before.

But here’s the thing, when my siblings and I were kids, every Sunday my Mom would throw a roast along with some carrots and potatoes into the crock pot and let it simmer all day. We carried this habit for years. We stopped doing it right before my teenage years.
Anyway, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to embarrass her. But man, she sure is making my nervous. My Grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s and I sure would hate to see my Mother go through that as well.
So are memory gaps that large typical with elderly folks? (67 years old)

This would worry me, especially if it was part of a pattern. Could you have your mother take one of the tests from The Ohio State University? I heard about these fairly recently on the news. It would let you and her see if there is something she should discuss with her doctor so that IF it is Alzheimer’s treatments can be used to hopefully slow the progression.

People with Alzheimer’s tend to lose more recent memories first. Maybe her crock pot use was so long ago and so unremarkable as to simply be forgotten. I’m no expert on this, though, and I do think it’s worthwhile for anyone who is concerned about memory loss (or whose family is) to get checked out. Even if there’s no problem now, she would have a baseline to compare against for later.

Crock pots can be much more complicated now than they were years ago. Or perhaps she got the wrong word. Did she perhaps get a pressure cooker? Or a convection type device?

Is it possible that what your mom had in those days was not actually a Crock Pot, which is a brand name?

Other than that, I’d think it more likely that she used the wrong word in talking to you. That can be a bit concerning, but only if she makes a big habit of doing that and not realizing it.

Ask her about it! She may have a logical (at least to her) reason for it. Let her know your concerns. Mom needs to see a doctor; perhaps you could go with her. There are other conditions that can cause memory lapses (hyper/hypothyroid, medication reactions, diabetes, vascular disease) and you need to establish a baseline. Dementia causes behavioral and cognitive deficits such as difficulty processing information, not just forgetfulness. Encourage her to exercise her brain with puzzles, crosswords etc. It does make a difference and it could help you monitor her. 67 is not that old. Even if she does have dementia there are treatments that slow the progression. Good luck to you both.

67 is definitely not that old! (I’m 68 and I know there are other posters here who are my age or older.) I agree with boyhowdy’s suggestion to talk to her about it and encourage her to see her doctor. Good luck!

Thanks for the input guys.
Oh man, I really dread talking to her. Before she retired my mom was a very high level executive. So she’s not exactly used to taking orders from anyone. (Sigh) I guess I’ll have to do it though.

This is what I was going to say. Maybe she used to have a “slow cooker” and doesn’t realize what she bought is the same thing. Maybe when she opens the box she will realize how similar it is.

Don’t freak out yet!

I have a tremendous amount of experience with Dementia and alzheimers, assuming you differentiate them at all.

It would be unusual for old memories to be lost due to alzheimers. It is possible that a mini stroke can wipe older memories.

Alzheimer memory losses tend to be at most today back a few months or years depending upon the time of onset.

Alzheimers patients tend to not be able to remember this morning, but can recall amazing details from 30 years ago.

I second the idea to simply ask your mom. ‘Hey, mom, didn’t you use a crock back in x for dinner?’

I agree that this sort of memory loss is more common with TIA (mini-stroke) than Alzheimer’s.

My mom’s been having these sort of memory gaps for a couple of years now, weird little stuff like saying she’s “always and only ever used Dawn dish soap.” (No, Mom, we always used Palmolive. I don’t know when you switched to Dawn, but it was after you were 50! It doesn’t “matter,” but it’s…disconcerting. And it can indeed be a sign of a problem if it’s more than just an occasional thing.

Just a few months ago, my mom had a TIA when she was with me. Nothing big and dramatic, no physical impairment, no face drooping, no weakness, no slurred speech, just…words were gone and gibberish replaced them for a few seconds, and then she couldn’t tell me what color my car was (I wasn’t actually interested in if she knew the color, I was trying to get her to say “white” to test her control over her facial muscles, but when she answered, “Red…no, blue!” while looking at the white hood of the car, I knew we had a problem.) When we got into the ER, they scored her very low on the stroke scale because she was able to talk to them and give them a list of medications from memory…but it wasn’t her list, it was her mother’s medications. She was completely docile and compliant, which is not like her at all. She patted my hand in a way she’s never done in her life, and said, “It’s okay honey, I’m fine, really I am,” in my grandmother’s voice. Weird scary stuff that’s very hard to assess as abnormal if you don’t know the person well. Testing did find areas of ischemia (stroke) in her brain, multiple small areas of dead brain. Turns out she’d been having some “funny” moments with gibberish for the last month or two that she and everyone else laughed over and called “senior moments.” Those were mini-strokes.

So, yes, I agree that first find out if your mom meant something else, like a pressure cooker, or if she didn’t know that Crock-Pot is a brand name of the slower cooker she’d used. But if that does not turn out to be the case, please do get her into the doctor for a good looking over. She might need a cardiology or neurology consult to look for and/or rule out other potential causes of memory loss. And if it does turn out to be early Alzheimer’s, you need to have a treatment plan set up sooner, rather than later. That may not mean medication right away, but you should form some sort of plan with her doctor for monitoring to decide when it is time to start medication.