We may not always like it, but sooner or later, our age catches up to us. Although a lot of positives can come along with age (like wisdom, experience, and incredible memories), there are certainly negatives as well. Our bodies and our minds don’t function in the way that they used to. For Baby Boomers, who first started turning 65 in 2011, this has quickly become a fact of life. But what some may be quick to dismiss as merely part of getting older may actually be more serious.
Familial caretakers often want to know whether a symptom their loved one is experiencing is indicative of dementia or whether it’s simply a sign of the normal forgetfulness that comes with age. It’s important to distinguish between the two in order to ensure proper care. The answer here could mean the difference between a senior being able to live independently for the long term and needing to find a long term care facility to address their needs. Here are some of the main differences between normal forgetfulness and potential signs of dementia diseases.
Age Related Forgetfulness
Loved ones might start to worry when a parent or older relative forgets a memory from decades prior or if they’ve forgotten a medical appointment. But research tells us that transience (the process of forgetting memories over time) and absentmindedness are a normal part of the aging process. In fact, these two incidents can happen to anyone, regardless of how old they are. Forgetting long-term memories, in particular, is incredibly common and is not necessarily cause for alarm. Forgetting the name of a school friend may not actually indicate the presence of a mental health condition; it may simply be part of the brain’s natural process in making room for new memories. It’s also important to note that a traumatic event or changes in emotional well-being might actually be causing your loved one’s forgetfulness. If someone is preoccupied with their feelings of depression, grief, or other anxieties, they may be more likely to be more absent-minded in other areas.
Exhibiting these symptoms (especially on an infrequent basis) should not prompt family members to jump to conclusions. If your loved one occasionally forgets an appointment or can’t remember a name right away, they may not require help from long term care facilities quite yet.
Signs of Dementia
With dementia diseases, memory loss is progressive. In other words, it’s not a lone instance of forgetting a social obligation or being unable to retrieve a memory from childhood. Rather, memory issues get steadily worse over time. Being unable to remember where you placed your keys is one thing, but being unable to remember the names of your children or mixing up words is another. Forgetting how to navigate to a familiar destination may also indicate a substantial memory problem. Someone who shows signs of forgetting important information, rather that incidental details, may benefit from the care that skilled nursing facilities can provide for dementia patients.
Another key sign of dementia are marked changes in personality or behavior. If someone is starting to forget details and has become more aggressive, more paranoid, or more impulsive with age, it’s possible that memory treatment may be needed. Feelings of disorientation, particularly when exposed to new environments, are also common among dementia patients. While these signs may not point to a definitive diagnosis, understanding the unique combination of symptoms that may accompany dementia can help family members decide on the right course of action for their loved ones (like seeking help from long term care facilities).
Loved ones shouldn’t panic when their relative forgets a single detail. But if this frequent occurrence seems to be worsening, it may be time to talk to their doctor and to start researching long term care facilities in the area. For more information on how our long term care facilities may be able to serve your family’s needs, please contact us today.