Is Mom’s Memory Loss a Sign of Dementia, or Normal Aging?
A person becoming more forgetful in old age doesn’t necessarily mean that they are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In some cases, perceived memory loss could be due to a number of other factors–hearing loss, poor vision, side effects from medication, etc.
With that said, it’s still good to know the signs of dementia, which is a brain disease that causes the slow decline of memory, thinking, and reasoning skills.
Below is a list of the 10 early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementia, adapted from the Alzheimer’s Association.
Changes in memory that disrupt daily life. Your loved one uncharacteristically forgets important dates or events, or asks for the same information over and over.
- Normal aging: Occasionally forgetting names/appointments/etc. but remembering them later.
Trouble planning or solving problems. Your elderly mother has changes in her ability to work with numbers, follow a recipe, or track bills.
- Normal aging: Makes occasional mistakes balancing a checkbook.
Difficultly completing familiar tasks. Dad has trouble driving somewhere familiar, or remembering the rules of a game.
- Normal aging: Occasionally needing help with settings on an appliance, or recording a TV show.
Confusion with time or place. Your loved one loses track of dates or seasons, or forgets where they are or how they got there.
- Normal aging: Initial confusion about the day of the week but remembering it later.
Trouble with visual images and spatial relationships. Mom has difficulty reading, judging distance, and/or determining color.
- Normal aging: Vision change due to cataracts.
Problems with speaking or writing. Your loved one has trouble keeping up in conversation.
- Normal aging: Occasional trouble finding the right word.
Misplacing things and trouble backtracking. Dad starts putting things in unusual places, losing things, or accusing others of stealing.
- Normal aging: Losing things from time to time, but being able to retrace steps to find them.
Decreased/poor judgement. Your loved one makes bad decisions with money, or falls behind on grooming.
- Normal aging: Making a bad decision every now and again.
Withdrawal from work or socializing. Your mother stops going to neighborhood meetings, going out to dinner with her friends, or has trouble keeping up during a trip to the store.
- Normal aging: Occasional weariness of work, family, and social obligations.
Changes in personality. Dad uncharacteristically becomes confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.
- Normal aging: Developing specific routines and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
An individual may experience one or more of these signs in varying degrees. If you notice your loved is suffering from one or more of them, it’s important to see a doctor. Keeping a cautious eye out on your aging loved ones is essential to making sure they receive the correct care they need.
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