Like any serious health concern, however, it’s important to know the difference between normal signs of aging and serious underlying conditions. While dementia is not a normal part of aging, some cognitive decline is.
Today, we’re examining the main differences between normal, age-related forgetfulness and symptoms of dementia.
Dementia Is Progressive
Dementia is a blanket term to describe a collection of diseases that cause brain cells to waste away. To be diagnosed with dementia, a person must exhibit cognitive decline in multiple areas, one of which must be memory loss. Other cognitive functions impacted by dementia include judgment, thinking, language, and motor skills.
Alzheimer’s Disease is by far the most common form of dementia, accounting for some 60%-80% of cases. Other common types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia and mixed dementia.
The progressive nature of dementia means that the condition gets worse over time. There is no available treatment that can stop or slow its progression, and there is no cure. However, there are treatments that can improve the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease for a period of time.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, many people can still work, drive, and live independently. As the disease progresses to the middle and late stages, however, memory loss is typically severe and impacts almost every function of daily life.
Normal, age-related memory loss does not typically progress into debilitating memory loss.
Dementia Interferes With a Person’s Daily Life
Dementia-related memory loss is disabling. People with dementia have severe short-term memory problems and have trouble identifying common objects.
People with dementia often become confused and disoriented in the evening hours, have trouble navigating to familiar places, and have issues remembering family members and friends.
While age-related memory loss can cause occasional short-term memory issues, it does not affect a person’s ability to recognize or use common household objects. It also doesn’t impact long-term memory the way dementia does.
Dementia Can Cause Personality Changes
According to the National Institute on Aging, behavioral changes are a common feature of dementia.
As the disease progresses, a person with dementia may exhibit loss of emotional control, become paranoid or anxious and show signs of depression. Other common personality changes associated with dementia include unusual sexual behavior, becoming physically or verbally aggressive, and lack of personal hygiene.
People with normal, age-related memory loss do not exhibit personality changes. They maintain the same level of reasoning, mood, judgment and emotional response that they’ve always had.
Dementia and Memory Care at Brookfield Senior Living
Brookfield Senior Living and Memory Care is a premier provider of care for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia in Arkansas. Contact us to learn more about our memory care unit today.