Is It Forgetfulness or Dementia? Here’s How to Tell Them Apart
You entirely forgot about the doctor’s appointment scheduled for last Friday, misplaced your glasses for the umpteenth time, and cannot remember the name of the new neighbor for the life of you. Is all of this just a typical part of aging, or could it be the start of Alzheimer’s disease? Is it simple forgetfulness or dementia?
The fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease is pretty common, and as dementia has been garnering increased awareness, it is leading to anxieties about our own potential diminishing functionality and independence in addition to memory loss. It also raises questions about future living and care arrangements if the time should come that assistance is necessary to remain safe and to tend to everyday needs.
However, it’s important to understand that there are many reasons behind forgetfulness that are unrelated to dementia, and some amount of memory impairment is just part and parcel of aging. Recently available statistics show that only 5% of older adults ages 71 – 79 actually have dementia, though that number increases to 37% for people aged 90 and over.
When trying to distinguish if absent-mindedness is forgetfulness or dementia, the initial step is to speak with your primary care physician about any cognitive impairment you’re experiencing in order to receive a detailed diagnosis and consider treatment options. Prior to your appointment, take note of details such as:
- When the impairment began
- Whether or not it was a gradual or sudden decline
- If it is impacting everyday life: getting dressed, eating, taking care of personal hygiene needs, etc.
The physician will want to rule out conditions that can mimic dementia – for example, delirium and depression – and will evaluate if the issue may stem from treatment side effects. Dementia progresses slowly and, in addition to memory deficits, can impact the ability to:
- Reason, judge, and problem-solve
- Focus and remain attentive
For those living with symptoms of Alzheimer’s, or any other condition that affects one’s ability to manage everyday life independently, Sage Home Care is always available to provide as much or as little assistance as needed by a highly-qualified and experienced caregiver for elderly loved ones. Sage Home Care enables seniors with Alzheimer’s or other challenges to stay safe, comfortable, and independent at home with a personalized care plan that may include:
- Help with personal care needs, such as showering and dressing
- Transportation to medical appointments and enjoyable outings
- Running errands
- Planning and preparing meals
- Household chores
- Engaging activities and socialization
- And much more