If you’re wondering how you can better serve your parent or relative who’s living with Alzheimer’s disease, you can feel relieved that some of it’s in your hands. Simply showing your face, having a conversation and participating in activities together can do wonders for dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers. One of the signs of developing Alzheimer’s […]
If you or your significant other has just received news that a relative has Alzheimer’s disease, the unanswered questions swirling around your head are probably multiplying by the minute. Some of these questions might include: How can I treat Alzheimer’s at home? How do I get help for my loved one with Alzheimer’s? What is […]
Having a relative with Alzheimer’s is very difficult, both for you and for them. Time spent on the best care, making decisions, and handling other personal affairs for them because they can’t help themselves creates stress, anxiety and doubt. But if your relative suffers from Alzheimer’s, new treatments can improve their quality of life substantially. […]
Your loved one’s retirement can be their “golden years”—but with the unstoppable march of time comes inevitable age-related health complications. Although growing old often involves grandchildren and retirement, it also brings about a litany of possible medical conditions affecting the mind, body and spirit. Alzheimer’s is one of these conditions. In the United States alone, […]
Understanding the Difference Between Age-Related Memory Loss and Early Signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Like other parts of the body, the brain undergoes physiological changes as we get older that can alter the way it functions. It may take us a little longer to learn or recall information. We may even experience minor age-related memory lapses such as forgetting where we placed the car keys or the name of an acquaintance.
But significant memory loss is not a normal part of the aging process. Memory change that disrupts daily life, family relationships, and the ability to function independently can be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Comparing the Symptoms of Age-Related Memory Loss Vs. Dementia
The symptoms of age-related memory loss and dementia can be very similar, especially in the early stages. However, there are subtle differences to note:
Disruption of Daily Life
The occasional “senior moment” where you temporarily forget a name or appointment is normal. But frequently forgetting important events or dates, asking for the same information repeatedly, or an increasing reliance on notes and other memory aids may be a sign of something more serious.
Problems Planning or Problem Solving
One early sign of dementia is difficulty working with numbers or following a plan that involves a series of steps. Making the occasional mistake while balancing a checkbook is not something to be concerned over, but being unable to manage a monthly budget or follow a familiar recipe may raise a warning flag for dementia.
Difficulty with Familiar Tasks
Normal age-related memory loss may make it necessary to ask for help for more unfamiliar tasks, such as recording a television show or logging into a computer. Dementia-related memory loss, on the other hand, may make it difficult to remember how to drive to the grocery store or get dressed in the morning.
Lack of Orientation to Time or Place
We all momentarily forget the date or day of the week from time to time. But individuals with dementia lose track of the passage of time to the point that they may not remember the season or even the year or have difficulty understanding the concept of something happening in the future. They also may not realize where they are or how they got there.
Changes in Visual and Spatial Perception
A decrease in visual acuity caused by cataracts, macular degeneration, and other conditions is a common part of aging. But dementia alters the way the brain interprets what it sees. For example, a person with dementia may perceive a black rug on the floor as a deep hole or fail to recognize their own reflection in a mirror.
Changes in Verbal Ability
Everyone occasionally struggles to find the right word to use. Someone suffering from dementia may have a hard time holding an entire conversation. Individuals with dementia may repeat themselves frequently, use inappropriate words, or call common objects by the wrong name.
Typical age-related memory changes do not normally affect your ability to make sound judgement and reasoned arguments. Individuals who make uncharacteristically bad judgement, such as giving a large sum of money to a telemarketer, may be exhibiting early signs of dementia.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Certain types of dementia, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies, can often be treated and reversed while others, such as Alzheimer’s, can be carefully managed to slow progression and improve quality of life.
Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.
Caring for a loved with Alzheimer’s can be a challenge so we are here to provide some great tips for caring for our loved ones living with Alzheimer’s. Becoming a caregiver for someone living with Alzheimer’s can easily become overwhelming and chaotic if you do not take the time to prepare for this newfound responsibility. […]