What’s the difference between Normal Aging and Dementia?

August 8, 2023

Aging is a part of life. It’s inevitable, and people should consider aging a blessing. It is great to live, and every day is truly a gift. However, there are a lot of transitions and shifts as one grows older. As an adult child, I must admit is hard to watch my loved ones age. Especially when it is often unclear as to what are ‘normal signs of aging’ versus what are concerning behaviors that may indicate early signs of dementia. 

Memory loss is a normal part of aging. According to the Alzheimer Society, “Aging is a natural process of our lives. As we age, we experience gradual changes to our brains and bodies. Some of these changes affect our physical and mental abilities, and may increase our risk of disease.” They go on to say “Almost 40% of us will experience some form of memory loss after we turn 65 years old. But even if we experience memory loss, chances are still unlikely that we have dementia.”  Alzheimer Society 

 So what is normal aging? What is considered an early sign of dementia?

Age-associated memory impairment is when an individual is experiencing problems with memory, but it is not disrupting their daily life. They are still able to live independently, complete daily tasks, and learn new things. 

Early Signs of Dementia include:

  •  Memory loss that makes it hard to complete daily tasks affecting day-to-day activities
  • The inability to learn new things or recall new things you’ve learned
  • Disorientation, forgetting time and place
  • Problems with language
  • Changes in mood, behavior, and/or personality
  • Misplacing things

It can still be hard to discern what’s normal versus what’s concerning, so our friends at the Alzheimer’s Society broke it down:

Signs of memory loss as a part of normal aging:

  • You’re unable to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago.
  • You’re unable to remember the name of an acquaintance.
  • You forget things and events occasionally.
  • You occasionally have difficulty finding words.
  • You are worried about your memory, but your friends and relatives are not.

Signs of dementia

  • You’re unable to recall details of recent events or conversations.
  • You’re unable to recognize or know the names of family members.
  • You forget things or events more frequently.
  • You have frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words.
  • Your friends and relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems.

Interested in learning more?  Check out our blog written by our friend Kris Chana about 9 Possible Signs you can look out for if you visit a loved one who is displaying the early signs of dementia.

*Please note this article is not meant to be used as a diagnostic tool, if you are concerned you or a loved one is showing early signs of dementia please consult a doctor. 

If you need help finding memory care for a loved one, please call us. We are here to help. 

 

Sources:

10 Signs of Dementia

The Differences Between Aging and Dementia 

 

 

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