As you get older, your body goes through lots of changes – and that includes your brain. It may take longer to learn new things and a little forgetfulness can have you searching for your reading glasses more often. But, how do you know when a change means something a little more than just aging?
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is a general term for the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities (alz.org). The majority of those with this progressive disease are over the age of 65 and often need specialized attention. People with Alzheimer’s may experience memory loss, mood swings, and difficulty with motor skills.
What are age-related memory changes?
You forget things here and there. Sometimes a person’s name doesn’t come right to you or you mix up the days of the week; but, you’re able to eventually recall the correct information. Age-related changes are generally inconsistent and can be subtle, not usually disrupting daily life.
What else can affect memory?
There are plenty of other conditions and circumstances that may cause changes in memory and cognition, albeit some more serious than others. Some common conditions that may affect memory are:
- Blood clots
- Certain infections
- Some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders
- Head injuries
- Medication side-effects
- Unhealthy diet
What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s & age-related memory changes?
Just because someone is experiencing changes in their memory, does not mean that they have dementia. Remember that when memory loss prevents you from performing daily tasks, it becomes a health concern that needs to be checked out by a professional. Let’s compare some Alzheimer’s and age-related memory changes.
|Forgets entire experiences||Forgets part of an experience|
|Gradually unable to care for self||Usually able to care for self|
|Always has trouble with decision-making||Momentary lapses in judgment|
|Difficulty carrying a conversation||Mixes up spoken words on occasion|
|Unable to find misplaced items often||Loses things from time to time but eventually locates them|
Dementia also has other symptoms that are not a normal part of aging. Some elements to look out for include wandering, depression, incontinence, confusion, and sleeplessness. However, remember that these symptoms can be the result of other conditions as well. Only a doctor can clearly diagnose Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Need more help?
If you or a loved one are experiencing changes in memory or cognitive abilities, then contact your doctor for help.
If you’re in need of additional Alzheimer’s and dementia resources, then start here:
Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging, by CDC
Need something else?
Whether it’s time for a change, or you’re just doing some research, we can help! At SeniorResource.com, we believe in the empowerment of older adults and their caregivers through knowledge. But, we also understand that at this juncture of life, time is your most valuable asset. So, why waste it doing another internet search? Senior Resource is your one-stop spot for all things retirement. We do the work and find all the facts, just so you don’t have to!
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