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How To Tell The Difference Between Normal Forgetfulness And Dementia

How To Tell The Difference Between Normal Forgetfulness And Dementia

Guidance for your loved one’s memory loss.

We all experience forgetfulness at some point – it happens to people of all ages. As people become older, we may begin to experience slight changes in our intellect over time, and this can mean more instances of forgetfulness. So how do we know if someone is just being more forgetful or showing signs of dementia? Here a few ways to differentiate between the two, as well as some of the signs that indicate more serious cognitive issues.


What are the symptoms of dementia?

Typical age-related symptoms:

  • Being more absentminded
  • Difficulty with multi-tasking
  • Trouble with spontaneous word finding (taking longer to get words out)
  • Transience (when the brain forgets some memories over time, possibly making room for new ones)

These examples could be occurring because the speed with which information is processed slows down gradually with age, possibly resulting in a delay in recalling names, dates or events that happened in the past. While these symptoms can certainly be frustrating for older adults, they would not prevent them from performing their daily tasks and accustomed roles in life. And their overall knowledge and skills should remain stable.


Dementia-related symptoms:

  • Forgetting names and places without recall
  • Significant difference in personality
  • Becoming disoriented or lost in familiar surroundings
  • Repeatedly misplacing objects or not knowing the name of objects

An important distinction to make is that those experiencing dementia are often unable to recognize their memory problems – while an older adult experiencing normal forgetfulness or “senior moments” generally is aware of their own lack of recall. Unlike normal age-related forgetfulness, memory loss linked to dementia is progressive and will steadily worsen over time.


Getting help
If memory loss is getting worse and interfering with daily life, individuals should consult a physician for further evaluation. A healthcare provider performs tests on memory, problem solving and other cognitive abilities to combine with a patient examination, family history, lab results and brain scans in order to make a diagnosis. At The Reserve at Fairhope, we can help your family determine if dementia care is the best option for the health, safety and future well-being of your loved one.

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