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How to Tell the Difference Between Dementia Vs. Regular Forgetfulness

a senior man struggles with potential dementia and not regular forgetfulness

The aging process is typically accompanied by at least some decline in your ability to remember things. Up to a point, such a decline is expected. However, some older adults experience the more severe memory issues that come with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If this happens to you or your loved one, a memory care program can provide you with crucial support. But how can you distinguish normal forgetfulness from dementia? Experts use a range of methods to tell the difference between the two.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s memory decline and are wondering if it’s time to consider senior living options like memory care, reach out to Parkway Place at 281.305.1846. We’re here to answer your questions and ease your worries.

The Difference Between Memory Loss and Forgetfulness

As you grow older, several changes in your brain and body can start to affect your memory. These changes include:

  • Declining function in parts of your brain that help you retrieve memories
  • Loss of some of the proteins and hormones that repair and stimulate your brain
  • A reduction in the flow of blood to your brain

Not everyone experiences these issues to the same extent. However, generally speaking, they’re common and expected.

What’s the difference between these normal, age-related changes and dementia? In other words, what’s the difference between memory loss and forgetfulness? Unlike expected changes related to aging, dementia seriously interferes with your ability to function. It also produces a number of problems not directly related to making or recalling memories.

Dementia Vs. Forgetfulness – Common Indicators

Is it forgetfulness or dementia? Dementia specialists look for certain telltale benchmarks when answering this question. Signs that you or your loved one are only experiencing normal forgetfulness include such things as:

  • Temporarily forgetting the day of the week
  • Sometimes forgetting which words you want to use
  • Experiencing brief periods of poor judgment
  • Forgetting to pay a bill every once in a while
  • Occasionally losing track of glasses, keys, or other items

In contrast, if you have dementia, you will experience much more significant problems. For example, you may not be able to recall the day, date, or season at all. You may also find it difficult or impossible to hold a conversation. A consistent pattern of poor judgment is common in people with dementia. So is an inability to manage your personal affairs adequately. In addition, people with dementia often can’t retrace their steps when looking for misplaced items.

Forgetfulness Vs. Dementia – The Middle Ground of Mild Cognitive Impairment

The contrast between forgetfulness vs. dementia doesn’t provide a full picture of aging and memory. Some adults have memory-related issues that are more extensive than the norm. At the same, those issues aren’t severe enough to qualify as dementia. Doctors use the term mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, to identify this in-between state. If you’re affected by MCI, you may lose items more often than most seniors. You may also have more trouble remembering to do important things. In addition, you may find it harder than most seniors to recall and use words.

The presence of MCI is considered a potential warning sign of dementia. However, dementia does not occur to everyone affected by this condition. Experts recommend that all people with MCI see their doctors once or twice a year for a memory assessment.

Is it Forgetfulness or Dementia? Learn More About Memory Care at Parkway Place

Are you or your loved one affected by forgetfulness or dementia? Only a doctor experienced in diagnosing dementia can say for sure. Want more information on how this process works? Talk to the senior living specialists at Parkway Place.

If you need support in the aftermath of a dementia diagnosis, Parkway Place is here for you. We feature a comprehensive memory care program that safeguards you and helps you maintain as much independence as possible. To learn more about this customized program, call us today at 281.305.1846 or fill out our online form.