Memory Loss – Senior Moment or Alzheimer’s Indicator?

Author: Robert Jo

The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia is forgetfulness, but not all instances of memory loss or forgetfulness is a sign of the disease. So how can you tell the difference between dementia and normal memory lapses due to aging? While the differences can be subtle, there are ways of detecting it.

Signs of Dementia Related Memory Loss

Here are some of the more common signs:

  • The Memory Loss Affects Daily Tasks: senior care is not required if the person just forgets a name and recalls it later. However it is another story if the individual fails to remember daily appointments or if people say you’ve asked for something several times over. Another serious sign is if you suddenly forget a skill you know very well (i.e. cooking, drawing, playing the guitar etc.).
  • Inability to Think Clearly: everyone gets confused at some point when accounting or making plans, but it’s another thing if this happens frequently. For elderly people who are suddenly unable to manage  their checkbook or make plans for the day, some help may be necessary. The fact is most diagnosis of Alzheimer’s usually starts because the person is having trouble balancing their checkbooks.
  • Difficulty with Step Retracing: as home health care specialists will point out, one of the more common signs of dementia is the inability to retrace their steps. Even though we may misplace an item, it is not that difficult to go over a few steps back and get it. A sign of dementia is being unable to do this.
  • Unable to Find the Right Words: all of us have at some point had that tip of the tongue moment, when we are searching for a word but just cannot remember what it is. This is normal and happens every now and then, but it’s another story if it happens often. If it reaches the point it affects your daily activities, it’s time to seek assistance.
  • Forgetting the Time and Your Location: normal memory loss should not cause you to forget the time or where you are. Frequently forgetting the time is inconvenient and will affect your work, and forgetting your sense of location can be frightening and dangerous. These are not normal and require the help from a doctor.

Dementia and Normal Memory Loss

Doctors agree that a certain level of forgetfulness is common with aging. Typically, regular memory loss means having a difficult time recalling new information you have just acquired like the name of someone you were introduced to days ago. Difficulty remembering names, dates and events that took place several years ago is normal too and not a sign of dementia.

Dementia signs and symptoms involve more extreme forms of forgetfulness. Aside from the instances already mentioned, signs of dementia include forgetting the basics like putting on your shoes before going to work, whether you have eaten or not, where you are going or have been too, etc. Those are the kinds of situations that require in-home care because they are probably symptoms of dementia.

The question now is, what does one do? The answer is to take careful note of the situation and if it worsens. If you just forget or misplace your keys, it’s not a big deal. However if you’re out on your daily walk and you temporarily forget where you are, it’s better to consult a doctor. Family members who notice these symptoms affecting a loved one should seek help to determine the cause.

The good thing about talking with experts is they can rule out other possible causes of forgetfulness like stroke, head injuries, depression, and alcoholism among others. Speaking with a doctor, you will be asked the pertinent questions that will determine the root cause of the problem and arrive at the best possible solution.

Caregivers must not only take care of the person but learn as much as they can about the condition. A lot of the stress and frustration that comes with the job arises from lack of information about what is happening, so increasing your knowledge will help. With the proper home care, steps can be taken to help a person deal with memory loss caused by dementia.

If you need any help caring for a loved one dealing with memory loss caused by dementia, contact us or visit our website for more information.

Home Helpers of San Ramon is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, Alzheimer's & dementia care as well as homemaker services in San Ramon, Danville, Diablo, Moraga, Pleasanton, Castro Valley, Sunol, and Dublin.



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