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HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN NORMAL MEMORY LOSS AND DEMENTIA IN SENIORS

If you have a senior or any that needs extra assistance living at your place, you must have noticed their habit of forgetting things. You must learn how to differentiate between normal aging memory loss and dementia- which is a much serious issue.

Memory And Aging

Having misplaced important things like your wallet, car keys, or suddenly forgetting a particular name or phone number is common. At a younger age, you won’t pay much heed to such issues. However, when you start to grow old, you should start worrying about these lapses.

For instance, you might be discussing a certain movie with a friend and you suddenly blanked on the name of the main character, or you’re unable to recall the name of a certain street. Sometimes, you’d pick up your phone and find yourself wondering what you had to do with it. Having difficulties in recalling a memory is very frustrating, but you shouldn’t always be worried about it. Memory lapses that grow with age are considered normal, and they aren’t the same as dementia.

As you get old, your body goes through a lot of changes – your muscles and bones get weaker. Similarly, your cognitive functions also start to diminish. This is why it usually takes you longer to recall a particular memory, and you’re not as quick as you were at a younger age. Some people start worrying too much and they start thinking these lapses are caused by some major brain disease. Mostly, the information you’re trying to recall will pop back up if you give yourself some time. Therefore, it’s certain that changes in your cognitive abilities will happen as you age, and major memory loss isn’t a part of this change. This is why you need to know how to notice normal aging memory lapses and identify the symptoms of a major brain problem.

How To Identify Age-Related Memory Loss

Your brain can make fresh brain cells at every age, therefore a great memory loss wouldn’t happen to a normal person who has aged. The main thing you need to understand is that your brain will start weakening if you don’t give it the necessary exercises and diet, just as you need to do with muscles and bones. Everything you do – what you eat, the work you do, your habits, and all activities you carry out daily, have a significant impact on your mental health. You can always enhance your mental capabilities regardless of your age. Moreover, a lot of your brain functions aren’t affected as you age, for instance:

  • The activities and things you do daily. 
  • Whatever knowledge you have gained from your experiences
  • Your ability to build up logical arguments and your in-built common sense.

Typically, aging memory loss happens due to these 3 causes:

  • The part of your brain that is responsible for making and retrieving memories weakens with age. This is called the Hippocampus
  • The hormones and proteins in your body responsible for keeping your brain cells active, diminish with growing age
  • With growing age, the blood pressure reduces, causing the blood flowing towards the brain to slow, which is the greatest cause of memory lapses and declining cognitive functions.

The Age-Related Memory Lapses Vs. Dementia

Knowing how to identify the normal memory lapses is important so that you know when to pay a visit to the doctor. Following are some of the common occasional memory lapses that you should deem as normal:

  • Frequently forgetting where you put your most used items like mobile, keys, or wallet
  • Suddenly forgetting the names of people you know
  • Replacing one memory with another. For instance, calling your granddaughter by your grandson’s name
  • Walking into a place and forgetting your purpose of coming there
  • Finding it hard to recall anything that you’ve recently read or watched
  • Getting distracted easily
  • Forgetting the important details of any conversation

Occasional memory lapses will not disable you, unlike dementia. Memory loss that comes with growing age does not significantly influence your daily routine. However, dementia is a constant problem that causes a decline in several cognitive abilities like your memory, the ability to speak, language, your judgment, and creative thinking.

When memory losses and glitches in your brain start getting too intense that they start distorting your daily routine activities, causing problems for your family; this is when you’re going through a serious mental problem like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Normal Age-Related Memory Losses and Lapses

  • You can easily carry out all your daily activities on your own, even if you tend to forget things
  • Recalling necessary information is easy if you give yourself some time
  • You might find it hard to recall ways and directions, but you won’t get lost in places you have been before
  • Might find it hard to recall a certain word or phrase, but can easily carry a conversation
  • Your logical thinking, judgment, and critical thinking aren’t affected at all.

Symptoms Of Dementia

  • Will face a lot of difficulty in carrying out routine tasks. Forgetting how to perform things you were really good at
  • You’ll be unable to recall the information that slipped your mind, no matter how much you wait for it to come back
  • Get lost and unable to track your way even in familiar places
  • Forgetting words, phrases are common. Carrying a conversation becomes too difficult
  • Analytical thinking and judgment is affected

If you have found similar symptoms in your old aged parents or any senior living at your place, take them to the doctor immediately. In case, the situation is worse, you should take them to your nearby home care specialist. You can find many dementia or home care specialist in Alzheimer’s. My Nurse Family was rated #1 home care company in Arlington that looks after the seniors and provides them the best care they deserve.

For more senior insights, head back to the My Nurse Family blog.

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