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Is it Forgetfulness Or Is It Dementia?

As we age, we seem to ask ourselves this question with more frequency. We misplace keys. We can’t think of a word or recall the name of an acquaintance.  Committing a new task to memory seems difficult. How do we know if our forgetfulness is a symptom of getting older or if we’re experiencing dementia? Let’s have a look at how forgetfulness and dementia differ.

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WHAT IS IT? Aging bodies mean changes in capabilities (including in the brain). Progressive, degenerative condition that has multiple forms. Types of dementia include but aren’t limited to: Vascular, Lewy body, frontotemporal, and Alzheimer’s diseases. See stages of dementia here.
CONSIDERED “NORMAL” OR POSSIBLE (Different Individuals Will Have Different Symptoms)
  • Forgetfulness
  • Making a bad decision
  • Forgetting what day it is
  • Searching for the right word to use
  • Forgetting to pay a monthly bill
  • Losing a commonly used item, like keys or glasses
  • Forgetting the name of a recent acquaintance
  • Difficulty driving to a new location
  • Typical mood fluctuations consistent ith personality
  • Confusion
  • Consistently demonstrating poor decision making
  • Forgetting what season it is
  • Struggling to maintain a conversation
  • Experiencing problems with managing finances
  • Misplacing things frequently and being unable to locate them within the house
  • Forgetting the name of a close friend or family member
  • Getting lost while driving in familiar places
  • Dramatic mood swings or changes in personality
  • Problems recalling recent events
  • Problems creating new memories
  • Difficulties concentrating and planning
  • Organizing steps in which to complete a task (such as cooking a meal)
  • Difficulties making decisions
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS Forgetfulness can be caused by other disease, not just dementia. Many diseases of the brain can lead to dementia. These include but aren’t limited to: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Wernicke-Korsakoff
DIAGNOSIS What to do: Rule out dementia and see “Treatment Options” below Diagnosis requires a physician, bloodwork, and scans. There may be testing to “rule out” other diseases as the cause in mental change.
  • Difficulty remembering the right word
  • Aphasia
  • Early evening confusion
  • Difficulty following conversation
  • Disease-related issues such as visual changes due to cataracts or glaucoma
  • Difficulty estimating distances (thus descending staircases)
  • Perceiving objects in three dimensions
  • Confusion as to the day of the week or date
  • Confusion about location
  • Being jaded
  • Irritation at generational differences
  • Crankiness
  • Temperament Changes
  • Agitation
  • Lack of self-control
  • Roaming
  • Becoming lost
  • Frustration at “getting older”
  • Depression related to isolation or changes in friend groups
  • Fretfulness
  • Isolation
  • Swings in temperament
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Social withdrawal
  • Delusions
TREATMENT OPTIONS Focused on maintaining quality of life. Focused on alleviating symptoms, not curing.
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Supplements
  • Exercise
  • Aromatherapy
  • Art therapy
  • Effective care
  • Good routine and sleep

Still concerned? Talk to your doctor about ruling out dementia. Take a list of the reasons why you feel concerned so there is something tangible to review.

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Here’s to life to the fullest,
Tiffany Rubin, Governing Board Member

4 Steps to Understanding a New Diagnosis
What’s the Difference?: Age-Related Memory Loss vs. Dementia (presbyterianhomes.org)
Senile or Old Dementia – Differences Between Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Senility
The Truth About Aging and Dementia

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Call: 302.724.7902
Email: jackie@silverlininghealthcare.com
Address: 24 Hiawatha Lane
Dover DE 19904