Clearly, this is an effort that cannot be left to health care professionals alone, but there is more that doctors, nurses and others can do. We can start by including elder abuse in conversations with patients and educating ourselves on the resources available.
Many worried people can take comfort from the fact that a certain amount of age-related memory loss, especially of people's names -- that aggravating "it's on the tip of my tongue" feeling -- is normal and is not a warning sign of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Whether it's leaking urine during exercise, sneezing or laughing, or a sudden uncontrollable need to go that results in wet pads or pants, urinary incontinence is a problem that plagues many older people, most often women.
Most physicians now believe that the damage done by Alzheimer's is irreversible and that the best hope lies in preventing it. This is particularly true for people at higher risk. I believe passionately that we should all know what those risks factors are and work to turn them in our favor.
A month ago, I almost became the subject of one of my own medical school lectures, after an episode that illustrated one of the most serious health problems facing older adults and their doctors: falling.