The aging process is often associated with cognitive decline, especially when it comes to memory-related challenges. While physical and mental declines are generally unavoidable, their severity varies greatly from person to person. What’s more, many older adults are able to adapt to these changes and continue living fruitful and fulfilled lives. Unfortunately, others are not so lucky – especially those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Many millions of older Americans are currently affected by declining mental health, specifically dementia, and that number is expected to rise.
As a result, those reaching advanced age (as well as their families) are often concerned that they may find themselves among these statistics. For this reason, it is important they educate themselves on the tell-tale signs and symptoms of dementia. This way, they will have a better idea of whether they or their loved one may be experiencing dementia or less severe cognitive changes.
Below are three ways to tell the difference.
It is always inconvenient to misplace a pair of glasses or a set of car keys. However, the potential implications of doing so can make these events much more stressful as people get older. These small issues may cause them to wonder if their memory is failing them or if they are experiencing early signs of dementia. Losing things from time to time at any age, while inconvenient, is perfectly normal. The concern for dementia arises when it becomes a consistent pattern.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) suggests keeping an eye on when someone is “misplacing things often and being unable to find them.”
Similar to misplacing belongings, missing a monthly payment might create concern on the part of an older person or those around them. Fortunately, this is not an immediate red flag. Nearly 40% of people will experience some form of memory loss after the age of 65. However, there is no direct correlation between a slight decline in memory and developing dementia.
Again, it is more about a consistent pattern. For example, if the person forgets to make multiple payments which results in consequences such as having their power or internet service shut off, it may be time to explore options for testing for dementia.
It can be frustrating to have a word on the tip of your tongue before it slips away. This can happen to anybody but could make an older person concerned about the state of their cognitive ability. Forgetting words per se should not be a cause for concern. Rather, it is important to focus on their overall ability to communicate.
The NIA suggests that dementia is a more likely possibility if the person is having difficulty having full conversations or communicating in a conventional way.
Concerned that your loved one is suffering from dementia?
If you have concerns that your loved one may be exhibiting signs of dementia, contact Inland Christian Home. We are an Ontario continuing care retirement community (CCRC) with a comprehensive memory care program. Give us a call at (909) 983-0084 or contact us online today.