Normal Aging Signs vs. Dementia

We’ve all been there. We forget something and wonder- am I losing my mind? Do I have dementia? Considering nearly 6 million Americans are living with some form of dementia and it is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, it seems natural to worry about ourselves or loved ones.

Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a group of symptoms which affect a persons’ cognitive functioning. The different types of dementia one could be diagnosed with depend on the underlying cause and areas of the brain affected. Dementia affects a person’s memory, judgment, language, spatial abilities, and visual abilities. It clouds the ability to think clearly, interferes with daily care needs, and causes strain on social and family relationships.

Dementia is generally not reversible, and 1 in 3 seniors will die with some form of dementia. Although there are some medications that may slow the progression of the disease, there is no cure for dementia. Unfortunately, it is a progressive and terminal illness. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in the next 30 years the number of people with dementia will triple.

How do we know what is normal and what to be concerned about?

What symptoms are signs of early stages of dementia? What might be something else?
As we get older, it is normal to take longer to learn new things or remember new information. We might need more practice doing new things, a little more time to process information, or need to think before remembering some random memory from long ago. It is normal to lose our car keys, forget a friends’ name, forget to turn off the oven, forget why you went in the other room, or even have a harder time with complex tasks like balancing a checkbook.

What is NOT normal about these same examples would be:
• Forgetting what to do with the car keys
• Forgetting memories of that friend
• Not remembering having lunch an hour ago
• Getting lost in familiar places
• Not know what numbers in the checkbook mean

Warning Signs of Dementia

As we age, our core values and personality remain reasonably stable. If you or someone you know is experiencing significant mood or personality changes, questionable judgment, showing loss of initiative, putting things in inappropriate places, having difficulty finding the right words, or performing familiar tasks, it might be time to see your primary care doctor for an evaluation. Dementia tends to creep into our lives, slowly and sometimes over years. It is not likely you would see a sudden or significant change in a short period of time. If you notice a sudden change, check with your doctor as it may be a sign of infection or other serious problem.

For more information on dementia care, please call For Papa's Sake Home Care at (847) 873-0234. We have a Certificated Dementia Practitioner on staff that is happy to talk you through your questions or concerns.

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