The Fine Line Between Normal Forgetfulness and Dementia
Dementia is an age-related disease that affects millions of people around the world. Those with the condition experience a decline in memory and other thinking skills, to the extent where performing everyday activities becomes challenging. It’s caused by damage to brain cells which, in turn, affects their ability to communicate with one another.
In the United States alone, it was found that around 5.7 million people have dementia. Past studies have also found that by the year 2060, more and more people aged 65 years and older will be diagnosed with dementia and other related diseases as life expectancy increases.
But how do you distinguish between normal forgetfulness and dementia? Let’s discuss:
Short-term memory vs. learning new information
Have you ever had your grandmother call you by another name? It’s normal for elderly people to occasionally forget people’s names or appointments and remember them later on. It’s also normal to forget something you were told a while back, or to misplace items from time to time.
However, if they forget the names of friends or family completely, it’s a major red flag that indicates they may have dementia. This also applies to completely forgetting recent events and putting important objects in odd places.
Problem-solving and decision-making
Normal forgetfulness involves being slower to react to things or think them through carefully. Many old people experience this. Not being able to juggle multiple tasks or making financial mistakes is also a part of the normal aging process.
It becomes critical, though, when people experience intense confusion when planning tasks or while making important decisions. Having trouble concentrating, making recurrent financial mistakes, or having a hard time keeping up with monthly bills can also signify dementia.
Mood and behavioral changes
Oftentimes, elderly family members are weary of work or family obligations. They may also occasionally feel anxious or develop irritation when their normal routines are disturbed—this is completely normal.
What is not normal, however, is when they start to become withdrawn and lose interest in activities they once loved to do. This can be a sign of dementia. Additional signs include experiencing unusual sadness or low self-esteem, or becoming easily frustrated at work or social gatherings.
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