Worried about your senior’s memory?
Don’t panic yet. There are significant differences between the normal forgetfulness that comes with age and the warning signs of cognitive problems.
Everyone forgets stuff
It turns out that everyone loses memory-making and cognitive abilities as they age. It’s normal. The decline starts by age 40 (yikes!) and picks up speed after that.
Hmmm, that probably explains why you can’t remember where you put your keys.
Normal aging vs signs of Alzheimer’s in 5 everyday situations
So how do you know if the things you’re noticing in your senior are normal or if you need to have them evaluated by a doctor?
Here are 5 real-life situations and the key differences between normal aging behavior and possible signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
1. Everyday tasks like using the TV remote or microwave oven
Normal aging: Needing help once in a while
Signs of Alzheimer’s: Trouble with familiar or daily tasks like getting lost driving to the local store, forgetting how to make their signature chicken dish, or not remembering the rules of a favorite game.
2. Multi-step or complex tasks like paying bills or cooking a meal
Normal aging: Making mistakes once in a while when balancing a checkbook or cooking a meal (Oops, forgot the paprika!).
Signs of Alzheimer’s: Difficulty planning or problem solving, like trouble following a familiar recipe or not being able to keep track of monthly bills.
3. Keeping track of time
Normal aging: Being temporarily confused about the day of the week, then figuring it out later.
Signs of Alzheimer’s: Having trouble tracking dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Sometimes forgetting where they are or how they got there.
4. Judgement and decision-making
Normal aging: Once in a while has poor judgment and bad decisions like drinking too much at a big party or spending too much money on something frivolous.
Signs of Alzheimer’s: Frequently has bad judgment or decision-making like giving large amounts of money to telemarketers, buying tons of stuff from online shopping channels, paying less attention than normal to personal hygiene — wearing the same clothes, not bathing, etc.
5. Personality changes
Normal aging: Getting irritated when a habit or routine is disrupted.
Signs of Alzheimer’s: Noticeable changes in mood or personality like getting confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious or being easily upset at home, at work, with friends, or in places where they’re out of their comfort zone.
Quirky behavior and occasional “senior moments” probably aren’t things to worry about. Everyone loses cognitive function as they age – and nobody is getting any younger!
If you do notice significant or serious behavior changes in your older adult, schedule a checkup with their doctor right away. If it is Alzheimer’s or dementia, early detection and treatment could help your older adult stay independent longer and could help manage symptoms.
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Urban Housecall
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