Is it Dementia or Simple Forgetfulness?
Brian SheridanAug 9th, 2022
People tend to forget things from time to time, such as where we placed our car keys, our computer passwords, or what we need at the grocery store. It often happens because we get preoccupied with something else. Simple forgetfulness is no cause for alarm.
However, forgetfulness happens more often as we age. It's hard to ignore when we notice it's occurring with increased frequency in an older loved one. Lapses in memory in older adults could be age-related, but they might also be a warning sign of Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
Why we tend to experience casual forgetfulness
It can be frustrating to forget someone's name only minutes after being introduced to them, or what we had for lunch soon after eating it. In these cases, we don't question whether we're developing dementia. There are several reasons why things might slip our minds, such as:
Experiencing absent-mindedness can happen to anyone. In most cases, it's the result of our brain's natural reaction when we try to remember too many things at once or do not focus enough on one thing. However, absent-mindedness does happen more frequently as we age.
Transience is the brain's act of removing specific memories as it deems necessary, such as redundant acts of locking the front door or taking vitamins. This is why we question whether we did those things minutes after we did them. Some scientists believe that transience is the brain's way of creating space to store more memories – just like a computer does!
Forgetfulness has been noted to be a symptom of people with depression. Doctors can treat depression with therapy, lifestyle changes, and prescription medicines, which can help to treat forgetfulness caused by depression.
However, it's important to note that although depression and dementia share many of the same symptoms, they are two significantly different conditions. Unlike depression, dementia is a progressive chronic condition that cannot be cured. The symptoms of dementia can be slowed down with the proper treatment, but its symptoms, including memory loss, will worsen over time.
What are the common signs between forgetfulness and dementia?
There are generally three signs that could suggest either forgetfulness or dementia. However, how the signs present can be strong indicators that could indicate which condition is causing them:
Short-term memory loss
Short-term memory loss due to natural aging is extremely common. For example, many of us forget where we place our cell phones. If we can find it by retracing our steps, we're likely experiencing a bout of forgetfulness. However, if you do something out of the ordinary, such as place your keys in the refrigerator and then forget where you put them, it could indicate something more severe than simple forgetfulness.
Difficulty communicating with others
As we age, we may have difficulty finding the right word to use on occasion. It's perfectly natural and is no cause for immediate concern. Communication problems are much more pronounced when someone has dementia. They might start mixing up word usage or trail off without completing a sentence.
Decision-making and solving problems
Older people tend to take their time making decisions or finding solutions to problems. They like to think things through before choosing the right path. This approach is prudent, responsible, and a sign of natural maturity. However, there may be cause for concern when someone gets extremely confused when making relatively simple decisions. They may also become frustrated or upset if they don't understand why this is happening.
Other signs of Alzheimer's disease or dementia
Memory loss, difficulty communicating, and problems with decision-making in older people can suggest either forgetfulness or dementia. However, when they’re accompanied by any of the below symptoms, it could indicate the presence of dementia:
Someone in cognitive decline may exhibit signs of confusion or become disoriented, be unsure of the time of day, have trouble recognizing family members or close friends, or experience difficulty finding everyday items.
A change in personality
Due to the mix of memory loss and confusion, someone with dementia can display sudden severe mood swings, become depressed, act fearful, or show other personality traits contrary to their normal behavior.
Few people know your older loved one as well as you do, so you may be among the first to recognize when something is wrong. If you do notice that your relative is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, don't wait to see if the situation resolves itself. Encourage them to visit their doctor for a thorough examination, testing, and treatment plan. Their care plan may include placement into Memory Care to help ensure they have the best quality of life possible.
No-cost help finding quality Memory Care in Northeast Florida
When someone in your family is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, there are many care options available to help provide the support your family needs.
Placement into Memory Care in a Senior Living Community is one of the best options for ensuring your loved one receives the best care possible while helping them thrive during their dementia journey.
However, many families find navigating the world of Senior Living Communities can be daunting and confusing, especially if they're doing it alone or for the first time.
That's why families looking for Memory Care in Northeast Florida call Brian Sheridan of Assisted Living Locators. Brian and his team will take the time to get to know your elderly loved one's needs, wants, and requirements and present a list of best-fit options that suit their lifestyle. With Brian on your side, you'll have all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.
Contact Brian at 904-559-3203 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find the Best Senior Living Community in Northeast Florida for you or a family member today!