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The Important Differences Between Dementia and Normal Aging

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“Now, where did I put those car keys?” It’s a question many of us find ourselves asking, and as we grow older, we may wonder if memory lapses such as this might be indicative of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. It’s important to know the differences between what’s considered to be typical of growing older, and a condition that may require further evaluation and treatment.

Although any concerns should be brought to the attention of your senior loved one’s physician, the Alzheimer’s Association provides a helpful breakdown to outline the key warning signs of dementia that are not a normal part of aging:

Alzheimer’s Disease Warning Signs:

  • Extensive memory loss. Loss of memory that disrupts everyday life, such as forgetting the date or season, or if the senior relies on others or on taking notes to remember everyday information.
    • Normal aging: Occasionally forgetting an appointment, someone’s name, or what day it is, but remembering later.
  • Difficulty with everyday tasks. Experiencing confusion when driving to familiar locations, paying bills, preparing meals and other activities of daily living.
    • Normal aging: Occasionally requiring assistance with an unfamiliar task, or making a mathematical error when balancing the checkbook.
  • Poor judgment. Making decisions that would not previously have been made, such as giving away large sums of money to a telemarketer, or wearing the same item of clothing for multiple days.
    • Normal aging: Occasionally making a poor decision.
  • Social withdrawal. Withdrawing from once-enjoyed hobbies and interests and avoiding friends, family, and social activities.
    • Normal aging: Occasionally feeling as though you want to skip an activity or outing.
  • Speech and writing problems. Forgetting common words and substituting incorrect names for objects, forgetting in the middle of a sentence what you were trying to say, and other vocabulary difficulties.
    • Normal aging: Occasionally struggling to find the right word.
  • Mood changes. Becoming more easily frustrated and upset, experiencing enhanced feelings of anxiety, confusion, suspicion, and fearfulness, particularly when in an unfamiliar environment.
    • Normal aging: Occasionally feeling irritated when routines are disrupted.

If you notice these or any of the other potential red flags of Alzheimer’s disease as described by the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s important to arrange for an evaluation as soon as possible with the senior’s physician.

And if Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia is diagnosed, you can count on the professional and highly skilled dementia care team at Quality First Home Care to provide a specialized in-home care solution to ensure your senior loved one remains safe and well, and has every possible opportunity to live life to the fullest potential. Call us at 770-639-3976 to learn more.