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Is it Dementia or Just Forgetfulness?

We all tend to forget things now and then. It’s often simply because we get preoccupied with something else and causes no need for alarm.

However, forgetfulness can happen more often as we get older. Sometimes, we notice it in our elderly loved ones a little too frequently, making it rather hard to ignore. Regular lapses in memory in older people can cause concern because we’re not sure if it’s simple age-related forgetfulness or the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

    Casual forgetfulness that can happen to anyone

    It can be frustrating when we forget someone’s name, a task we need to complete, or what we had for lunch. But do we question whether we’re developing dementia? Not at all! Many things slip our minds for various reasons, such as:

    • Absent-Mindedness
      Absent-mindedness can happen to anyone, especially to older adults. It just comes down to trying to remember too many things at once, causing us to lose focus. If a person doesn’t provide enough attention to focus on certain things, they will most likely forget it. It’s a perfectly natural reaction our brains have when we pack too much in at once. However, it does happen with more frequency as we age.

    • Transience
      It might sound like a fancy psychological term, but transience is simply the brain’s act of removing specific memories as it deems necessary. Some of the more redundant, repetitive tasks we do are often forgotten as soon as we do them.
      For example, have you ever noted the time and then had someone ask you for the time mere seconds later? Chances are, you had to recheck the time! It happens to many people and is perfectly natural.
      Some scientists have speculated that transience occurs because the brain creates space to store more memories – just like a computer does!
    • Depression
      Many doctors have noted that patients with depression also present forgetfulness as a symptom. Depression and dementia share many similar symptoms, but they are two very distinct conditions.Depression can be treated with therapy, lifestyle changes, and prescription medicines, thereby helping to treat forgetfulness. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be slowed with the right approach, but because they’re also progressive and incurable, the associated forgetfulness will only worsen over time.
      This is why it’s crucial to take your elderly loved one to the doctor for a professional assessment, testing, and diagnosis, so the correct course of action can be taken.

    Comparing the Signs: Forgetfulness versus dementia

    There are three common signs of forgetfulness and dementia that people use to distinguish between the two conditions:

    1. Short-term memory loss
      It will be pretty common to experience short-term memory loss as we age. For example, suppose you misplace your phone (which happens to many of us) but can retrace your steps and find it again. In that case, it’s likely just a sign of forgetfulness.
      However, suppose you’re doing something out of the ordinary, such as placing your keys in the refrigerator and forgetting where you put them. This could signify that something more serious than just forgetfulness is going on.
    2. Problem-solving and decision-making
      Older people aren’t as impetuous as younger folks. They take their time to think things through to ensure that they’re making the best decision. This approach is prudent and a sign of natural maturity.

      However, there could be something wrong if the person gets extremely confused when making relatively simple decisions. They may also become agitated if they don’t understand why this is happening.

    3. Difficulty having a conversation

      Sometimes as a person gets older, they may have difficulty finding the right word to use now and then. This is bound to happen as a person ages.
      Dementia affects communications in a much more pronounced way, causing someone to mix up word usage or trail off without completing a sentence.

    • Absent-Mindedness
      Absent-mindedness can happen to anyone, especially to older adults. It just comes down to trying to remember too many things at once, causing us to lose focus. If a person doesn’t provide enough attention to focus on certain things, they will most likely forget it. It’s

      Other signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

      Along with memory loss, problems with decision-making, and difficulty communicating, there are other signs to watch out for that might suggest a dementia condition, such as:

      • Confusion:
        Increased confusion is an early indicator of cognitive decline caused by dementia. The person may also exhibit signs of being disoriented, unsure of the time of day, having trouble recognizing family members or close friends, or finding everyday items.
      • Personality changes:
        Often, due to the memory loss and confusion associated with dementia, the person can have sudden severe mood swings. They might also become depressed, fearful, or display other personality traits contrary to their normal behaviour.

      Chances are, you know your older loved one enough to recognize when something is wrong. If you notice any of the above symptoms, don’t wait to see if the situation resolves itself or try to diagnose the person on your own. Encourage them to visit their doctor for a thorough examination, testing, and treatment plan that will allow the person to live the best quality of life possible, regardless of their diagnosis.

      Alzheimer’s disease and dementia support in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton

      If your parent receives a positive Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis, you should both expect significant changes to your lives as the condition progresses over time.

      However, always remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. There are many support programs available that specialize in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care. These programs are designed to help you and your family face this new journey with hope, confidence, and determination.

      When you need support with your parent’s healthcare needs, CareHop can help. Our caregivers specialize in providing professional Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care that helps bring joy and sunshine into your parent’s life. Our care plans are respectful, empathetic, and focused on your family’s needs and wishes.

      For more information about our care services or if you have any questions, please reach out to our team anytime.

      About the Author

      Michael Lu is the founder of CareHop. He started the business inspired by his Grandmother to look at ageing as a happy experience to bring sunshine into the homes of others.

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