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What Is The Difference Between Old Age Forgetfulness And Dementia

How Long Do People With Dementia Live With

Difference between forgetfulness and dementia

Researcher Murna Downs, PhD, says most people dont recognize that dementia is a disease people live with, and not just a death sentence. Downs research focuses on quality-of-life issues among dementia patients. People with dementia live a long time, and we now know that there is a lot of awareness, she says.

Risk Factors And Complications :

Alzheimers is more likely to develop as a person ages. Studies have also shown that people having a high blood pressure of more than 160 mmHg is a risk factor for alzheimers as is having high levels of cholesterol of greater than 6.5mml/l. Genetics are an important risk factor. For instance, it was found that people having a specific APOE4 allele had a three times greater risk of developing alzheimers. The alzheimers inevitably leads to death after 7 to 8 years as the brain deteriorates a person is unable to function and often ends up with an infection that kills them.

The Truth About Aging And Dementia

As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimers disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand whats normal and whats not when it comes to brain health.

Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. Its normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where you put your keys or the name of the person you just met.

In the United States, 6.2 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimers disease, the most common type of dementia. People with dementia have symptoms of cognitive decline that interfere with daily lifeincluding disruptions in language, memory, attention, recognition, problem solving, and decision-making. Signs to watch for include:

Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. There are 7 ways to help maintain your brain health.

  • Not being able to complete tasks without help.
  • Trouble naming items or close family members.
  • Forgetting the function of items.
  • Repeating questions.
  • Taking much longer to complete normal tasks.
  • Misplacing items often.
  • Being unable to retrace steps and getting lost.

If you have one or more of the 10 warning signs, please see your health care provider. Early diagnosis gives you the best chance to seek treatment and time to plan for the future.

Heres what you can do:

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Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia

Although Alzheimer’s disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.

Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:

  • personality changes reduced sensitivity to others’ feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
  • lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
  • language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
  • becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking

Read more about frontotemporal dementia.

Summary Of Differences Between Forgetfulness Of Normal Aging And Alzheimer’s

Dementia vs Alzheimer

Normal Aging

  • Memory improves with cueing and context
  • Vocabulary and relationship understanding remains intact
  • Able to remember the order of things and who said what
  • Frequently demonstrating poor judgment and decision-making
  • Not being able to handle paying bills regularly
  • Often being disoriented to time and place
  • Difficulty with familiar tasks, such as making coffee every day
  • Getting lost on your way home from your daily job

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Stage : Moderate Dementia

Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.

While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.

Normal Aging Memory Loss Vs Dementia

Memory problems dont always indicate dementia. According to the National Institute on Aging, its perfectly natural to experience age-related memory loss.

Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain, they advise. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems

So how do you tell the difference between normal memory loss due to aging and dementia symptoms? Its not an exact science , but the chart below can help give you an idea of what youre up against.

Normal Aging Memory Loss

Consistently demonstrating poor decision-making skills

Forgetting what day it is

Forgetting what season it is

Searching for the right word to use in conversation

Struggling to maintain a conversation

Forgetting to pay a monthly bill

Experiencing problems with managing finances

Losing a commonly used item, like keys or glasses

Misplacing things frequently and being unable to locate them within the house

Forgetting the name of a recent acquaintance

Forgetting the name of a close friend or family member

Difficulty driving to a new location

Getting lost while driving in familiar places

Typical mood fluctuations consistent with their personality

Dramatic mood swings or changes in personality


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Symptoms That May Indicate Dementia:

The main difference between age-related forgetfulness and dementia is that the latter impacts ones daily life activities, hobbies, and relationships. Some common signs may include:

  • Frequent confusion or disorientation about the time or familiar people and places.
  • Not being able to follow instructions or directions.
  • Having trouble holding conversations by forgetting or misusing words, repeating phrases and stories, or asking the same questions over and over.
  • Major changes in personality, such as aggression, impulsiveness, and poor judgment.
  • Difficulty with simple, everyday tasks such as paying bills, taking medication, dressing appropriately, or grooming.

Dementia And Cognitive Impairment

Alzheimer’s Disease vs Dementia

Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not a specific disease .

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioningthe ability to think, remember, or reasonto such an extent that it interferes with a persons daily life and activities. These functions include memory, language skills, visual perception, problem solving, self-management, and the ability to focus and pay attention.

Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a persons functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living .

Age is the primary risk factor for developing dementia. For that reason, the number of people living with dementia could double in the next 40 years as the number of Americans age 65 and older increases from 48 million today to more than 88 million in 2050. Regardless of the form of dementia, the personal, economic, and societal demands can be devastating.

Dementia is not the same asdelirium, which is usually a short-term complication of a medical condition and most often can be treated successfully. Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss.

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Symptoms In The Later Stages Of Dementia

As dementia progresses, memory loss and difficulties with communication often become severe. In the later stages, the person is likely to neglect their own health, and require constant care and attention.

The most common symptoms of advanced dementia include:

  • memory problems people may not recognise close family and friends, or remember where they live or where they are
  • communication problems some people may eventually lose the ability to speak altogether. Using non-verbal means of communication, such as facial expressions, touch and gestures, can help
  • mobility problems many people become less able to move about unaided. Some may eventually become unable to walk and require a wheelchair or be confined to bed
  • behavioural problems a significant number of people will develop what are known as “behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia”. These may include increased agitation, depressive symptoms, anxiety, wandering, aggression, or sometimes hallucinations
  • bladder incontinence is common in the later stages of dementia, and some people will also experience bowel incontinence
  • appetite and weight loss problems are both common in advanced dementia. Many people have trouble eating or swallowing, and this can lead to choking, chest infections and other problems. Alzheimer’s Society has a useful factsheet on eating and drinking

What To Look For

Georges advice is to be on the lookout for abrupt changes or rapid differences in a parents memory. He tells SheKnows that other red flags are when a persons memory issues impact their life, particularly in a negative or dangerous manner examples include forgetting to turn off the stove after cooking, missing paying bills or losing their grasp on balancing the checkbook.

I will often ask if patients find themselves driving somewhere and then forgetting why they left or losing the way in an otherwise normal driving route, George says. All of these may be signs to seek further evaluation with a physician.

Porter adds that the following are warning signs that a parent should be evaluated for dementia or a dementia-related illness:

  • Repetitively asking the same questions
  • Frequently inserting the wrong word into a conversation
  • Taking a long time to complete daily chores due to memory problems
  • Getting lost while walking or driving in a relatively familiar area
  • A sudden, unexplained change in mood, personality or behavior

The bottom line is that if youre worried about a parents declining memory, it can never hurt to have them evaluated by an expert. Hopefully youll be provided with reassurance that their memory lapses are an unpleasant but normal part of aging but if there is an underlying cause, the sooner you can begin working with a doctor on a treatment plan, the better.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia

According to the CDC, symptoms of dementia can vary widely from person to person. Signs of dementia in the elderly include problems with memory, attention, communication, reasoning, judgment, task completion, problem-solving, moods, behaviors, and spatial and visual perception.

If youre determining forgetfulness vs. Alzheimer’s or forgetfulness vs. dementia in a loved one, consider these early signs of dementia development:

  • Frequently forgetting important dates and events
  • Having trouble remembering names of friends and loved ones
  • Asking for the same information over and over
  • Trouble completing and staying focused on familiar tasks
  • Significant difficulty concentrating
  • Getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
  • Forgetting how to play a favorite game or participate in a favorite hobby
  • Losing track of dates and seasons
  • Not knowing where they are or how they got there
  • Difficulty reading
  • Trouble judging distances or color/contrast
  • Problems following a conversation or frequent trouble finding the right words
  • Constantly losing items and being unable to find them
  • Poor financial judgment
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Withdrawal from hobbies and social activities
  • Increased irritability and personality changes

Ability To Complete Common Tasks

Senile or Old Dementia

Early-onset dementia can lead to the inability to perform certain tasks that were at one point easy, such as finding directions, solving problems, managing finances, performing previously mastered tasks at work, etc. “In memory loss due to aging, the general processing speed may slow down, one may have occasional difficulty recalling new names or ideas, and once in a while, one may lose track of thought in a conversation,”Ayesha Sherzai, MD author of The Alzheimerâs Solution, tells Bustle. “But generally one is able to carry out all the activities of daily living without much difficulty.”

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What Is The Difference Between Alzheimers And Old Age Memory Loss

  • As the brain ages it is not unusual to forget the name of someone, particularly if you havent seen them in awhile.
  • Aging can make it difficult to find the right word when speaking or writing, or hard to remember the name of an object that isnt used often.
  • With older age, it takes longer to learn new skills or accept new ideas. It may take longer to react to things since reflexes slow down with the aging process.
  • A characteristic of the normal aging process is that general intelligence remains normal, and reasoning abilities and judgment are not altered with aging.

Symptoms of Alzheimers are much more Problematic than simple lapses of memory

  • Difficulties with ordinary tasks and daily activities
  • Making Unusual decisions or acting inappropriately
  • Difficulty learning new things

When Should You Seek Medical Help

As soon as you or your loved one notice that their memory is getting worse and is having trouble remembering, thinking, concentrating or participating in familiar activities and everyday tasks, its important to see a doctor. A physical exam, blood tests and brain scans can help determine an underlying cause.

Medical providers will also screen for reversible causes for patients who show signs of dementia. The Mayo Clinic states that reversible underlying causes could include medication side effects, increased brain pressure, vitamin deficiency or a thyroid imbalance.

If the doctor suspects dementia after the examination, a course of management and treatment can be recommended. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimers disease, have no cure, but medications are available that can help slow their progression or reduce symptoms like disorientation, anxiety, delusions or behavioral changes. Research is underway for more effective treatments.

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Causes For Old Age Memory Loss:

Some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging and can be caused by vascular problems in the brain, such as having a stroke. The other reason it is common in older adults is that people may be on many medications that impair their memory and cognition. In addition, the brain does shrink to some extent with age and the regions of the brain that are affected include the hippocampus, temporal and frontal lobes and the thickness of the cortex is reduced. This can all lead to less ability when it comes to thinking and memory.

Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment

Understanding Cognitive Aging – Difference between normal aging and dementia

Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:

  • Getting lost easily
  • Noticeably poor performance at work
  • Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
  • Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
  • Losing or misplacing important objects
  • Difficulty concentrating

Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.

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Other Neurodegenerative Diseases And Conditions

Doctors have identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. The diseases have different symptoms that involve body and brain functions, and affect mental health and cognition.

Argyrophilic grain disease is a common, late-onset degenerative disease that affects brain regions involved in memory and emotion. It causes cognitive decline and changes in memory and behavior, with difficulty finding words. The diseases signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from late-onset AD. Confirmation of the diagnosis can be made only at autopsy.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare brain disorder that is characterized by rapidly progressing dementia. Scientists found that infectious proteins called prions become misfolded and tend to clump together, causing the brain damage. Initial symptoms include impaired memory, judgment, and thinking, along with loss of muscle coordination and impaired vision. Some symptoms of CJD can be similar to symptoms of other progressive neurologic disorders, such as Alzheimers disease.

Secondary dementias occur in people with disorders that damage brain tissue. Such disorders may include multiple sclerosis, meningitis, and encephalitis, as well as Wilsons disease . People with malignant brain tumors may develop dementia or dementia-like symptoms because of damage to their brain circuits or a buildup of pressure inside the skull.

Difference Between Dementia And ‘senior Moments’ Explained By Alzheimers Society

Sally Carr, helpline adviser at the charity, explains when its time to be concerned about the behaviour of you or your loved ones

The Alzheimers Society takes regular calls from people anxious about their behaviour or that of loved ones worrying they are getting dementia.

Here, Sally Carr, helpline adviser at the charity, explains when its time to be concerned.

As you get older you may find yourself getting forgetful or becoming muddled by simple tasks.

But while its always advisable to speak to a GP if you are concerned about your health, often it is nothing to worry about and is simply a senior moment a symptom of older age.

However, there are very subtle differences between everyday forgetfulness and symptoms of dementia, says Sally.

And these are the ones we need to look out for.

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Symptoms Specific To Dementia With Lewy Bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies has many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and people with the condition typically also experience:

  • periods of being alert or drowsy, or fluctuating levels of confusion
  • visual hallucinations
  • becoming slower in their physical movements
  • repeated falls and fainting

Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.


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