There have been times when we’ve all forgotten someone’s name or phone number, or misplaced our keys. Small lapses like these are taken in your stride when you’re young, but they can be worrying for the elderly. Perhaps you’ve had trouble at the grocery store trying to recall what you needed for dinner that night. Or, mid-way through telling a story, you’ve forgotten the names of the people you were talking about. Lapses in memory can be frustrating, but they are mostly normal and are not the same thing as dementia. As we age, our bodies and minds change. This can cause certain glitches in brain functions. It can take longer to learn and process information. However, while it is true that lapses in memory can be normal, major memory problems are not. It is important to be able to distinguish between age-related forgetfulness and symptoms that might indicate something more worrying. Find out if what you or your loved one are experiencing is normal memory loss or dementia.
Ability to Function Independently
While the elderly can often experience forgetfulness, individuals without dementia are still able to function independently and pursue their usual activities. A possible indication of dementia, however, is when you have difficulty performing simple tasks. These can include paying bills, washing up, or dressing appropriately for the day’s activities. You might forget how to do things that you’ve done many times before.
If you have forgotten something but are later able to recall and describe what has been forgotten, it is not too worrying. A possible indication of dementia, however, is that you will be unable to recall or describe particular instances where your memory loss has caused problems.
While the elderly going about their day independently may pause from time to time to get their bearings, they don’t usually get lost in familiar places. Individuals with dementia might get lost or disoriented even in places that are familiar to them. Memory-related diagnoses can affect a sense of time or place, so even when a person with dementia receives directions, they might have difficulty following them.
Looking for the Right Word
We’ve all occasionally had trouble finding the right word during a conversation, but this does not usually cause us much trouble. We can either recall the word after a while or are able to phrase our stories differently. For individuals with dementia, however, words are often forgotten, misused, or garbled. They may repeat phrases and stories in the same conversation because they have forgotten that they had mentioned them earlier.
Judgment and Decision-Making
People with dementia might have issues with decision-making. They might show poor judgment or behave in ways that are inappropriate to the situation. Dementia and other memory-related issues can impact not just memory retention but the ability to think critically and make decisions.
What to Do if You or Your Loved One Is Experiencing These Symptoms
If you suspect that your or your loved one might have dementia, it is always best to deal with it early. Spotting the early signs of dementia and getting a diagnosis can lead to better results during treatments. Visit your trusted doctor so that you can discuss if what you or your loved one is experiencing is normal memory-related loss or dementia. You do not need to suffer alone. The Memory Care program at Seaton Hagerstown is dedicated to providing exceptional care for people with memory-related issues. Our approach is unique and holistic and always centered on the individual.