We have all misplaced keys, forgotten someone’s name, or failed to remember a contact number. When we are young, we do not tend to pay much attention to these “senior moments”, however as you grow older, you might feel stress over what they suggest in terms of memory loss.
Commonly, we might begin to talk about a movie we saw lately when we realize we can not remember the exact title. Maybe we are giving directions to our house when we suddenly can not recall a familiar road name. Sometimes we find ourselves standing in the middle of the kitchen questioning what we went in there for.
Memory lapses can be irritating, however most of the time they are not cause for issue. Age-related memory changes are not the same as dementia.
As we get older, we experience physiological changes that can create issues with brain function. It takes longer to learn, as well as remember information. We are not as quick as we used to be!
In most cases, when we give ourselves some time, the missing info will come to mind. So, while it is true that specific brain changes are unavoidable when it comes to aging, significant memory issues are not one of them.
That is why it is essential to understand the distinction between regular age-related forgetfulness as well as the symptoms that might show a real cognitive problem. (1)
Early Symptoms of Dementia
Different kinds of dementia can affect people in different ways, and everybody will experience signs and symptoms in their own way.
Nonetheless, there are some common very early symptoms that may appear a long time before a medical diagnosis of dementia. (2) These include:
• memory loss
• difficulty concentrating
• finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
• struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
• being confused about time and place
• mood changes
Trouble Remembering the Right Words
An article in LiveScience.com discusses that those with the typical decline from aging might need to pause to articulate what they want to say. However, those with Alzheimer’s will have many more problems when it pertains to spoken interaction.
The source discusses that an individual experiencing Alzheimer’s will certainly have a problem engaging in conversation or is prone to “stopping in the middle of a sentence or repeating themselves.” They might also begin calling familiar items by the incorrect name.
Forgetting the Names of Close Family Members
We’ve most likely all had those moments where we struggle to recall the name of someone we simply met at a party or an acquaintance we encounter on the street. However, while needing to ask the name of somebody we do not know well, is not startling, those with Alzheimer’s will take this to the next level.
Alzheimer’s Society Canada says that this “forgetting” of names can include family members as well as others the senior sees on a day-to-day or regular basis. It can also indicate the senior does not recognize a member of the family. (3)
Planning and Problem Solving
Everybody makes mistakes. We make a one-time error in the checkbook or pay the incorrect amount on a bill. That is regular stuff we all do. However, when we are actually struggling to follow directions for a familiar cooked dish or pay bills the way we normally would, this may be an indication of memory issues.
Struggling With Normal Daily Tasks
Having a problem using that television remote? Forgot how to use the microwave? If seniors require a little assistance once in a while with these tasks, it is most likely absolutely nothing to worry about.
Yet if seniors have issues doing normal daily tasks, like driving to areas they always go, playing favorite games, or finding their way around the grocery store, it might signify a more severe memory issue.
Can Not Find Items Like Keys and Glasses
Most of the time when we fail to remember where we have left something, like our keys or our glasses, we should be able to think back, retrace our steps, and find whatever it is. If a senior notices that they are losing items frequently, and can not retrace their steps to find the items, that is a typical indicator of a larger memory problem. (4)
Other Issues That Cause Memory Problems
Several conditions can add to memory issues and dementia; Alzheimer’s is among them. A decline in intellectual function that significantly hinders social connections, as well as everyday tasks is characteristic of dementia. The most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s and multi-infarct dementia (a collection of little strokes in the brain).
Other sources of dementia-like symptoms consist of infections, medications, a metabolic or dietary condition, brain tumors, clinical depression, or another dynamic disease like Parkinson’s.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have memory impairment, however, are able to carry out routine tasks without support. Moderate cognitive impairment has actually been identified as one of several causes of developing Alzheimer’s. While all clients that develop some type of dementia go through a duration of MCI, not all people showing mild cognitive impairment will develop Alzheimer’s disease. (5)
Although most memory changes with aging are normal, a diagnosis of dementia can affect a person’s entire life, and the lives of the people around them.
If a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to remember that:
• They are still the same person, even though they have problems with memory, concentration, and planning.
• Everyone experiences dementia differently.
• Focusing on the things they can still do and enjoy will help them stay positive.
• With the right help and support when they need it, many people can, and do, live well with dementia for several years.
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