Over the past year, things have been slipping out of my mouth that would have been better left unsaid, and have embarrassed me or hurt others.

The last straw was a comment about a granddaughter's career choice that caused a four-month estrangement between my daughter, her children and me. We recently breached the crevasse and are back on friendly terms, much to my relief.

But the incident has left me examining others things that have popped out in various situations, with no apparent filter as to whether or not they are appropriate. I have come home from a meeting or luncheon and asked myself, "Why did I say that?" I have later found myself apologizing and promising myself that it wouldn't happen again. But these incidents keep re-occurring.

They have made me question my mental acuity to the point that I took a self-administered test that was available online, and gave it to my doctor for an evaluation. It was a test with which he was familiar. He looked it over and said I had nothing to worry about.

But I'm really not convinced. I do worry.

Why does this keep happening, even though I resolve every time I am in the company of people other than my husband, that I will KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT?

Is this one of the early signs of approaching dementia?

Am I on the verge of lapsing into the dreaded Alzheimer's?

Or, is it just "the meanness coming out," as my mother used to say?

In the past few months, I have withdrawn from groups that I had previously enjoyed, for fear that I will say something that is inappropriate. That may seem like over-reacting to something that I should be able to control.

I keep reading posts on this site about the hurtful things that dementia patients say and do that cause distress to loved ones. I am asking myself if we all lose our filter as we age—the filter that keeps hurtful or annoying things from coming out at unexpected times, without the power to stop them before it's too late.

Is this a natural part of aging? Not for everyone, certainly. But, for some of us, there may be no way to prevent it. Something beyond our control is at work, and we just have to try desperately to reel it in and keep it in bounds.

The nice part about being a writer is that you have the chance to look over what you have written, and hit the "delete" button before you hit the "send" button. If only we could do that with our voice.

In the meantime, I am working desperately to retrieve my inner filter.