Many seniors worry when they experience bouts of forgetfulness, because they believe it could indicate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Occasional forgetfulness is a normal part of aging. Older adults should learn what level of memory lapses are due to normal aging.
Memory must first be defined: It is the process of recalling what has previously been learned. The ability to remember and recall past events and experiences gives aging people the vital link to their loved ones, family members, friends and community.
But as older adults age, their memory subtly changes. These changes to memory may go unnoticed or be so prominent that they become disturbing to the senior or others. Memory changes can develop faster than expected or manifest sooner than anticipated.
A number of different factors contribute to problems with memory. Some memory issues are caused by medications the senior takes or health conditions he has developed. Common ailments that can potentially affect an older adult’s memory include depression, anxiety and sleep problems.
Additional health conditions that impact memory are heart disease, infections of the brain, a brain tumor, blood clots and a head injury. Thyroid disease, dehydration and vitamin deficiency also play a role in a senior’s ability to recall information readily.
If forgetfulness is due to a health problem, such as the aforementioned, then treating the illness can improve memory. On the other hand, when memory lapses prevent seniors from performing everyday functions, it should be a concern and evaluated by healthcare professionals.
What types of forgetfulness are due to normal aging?
Most people experience strong memory even as they continue to age. However, it is normal for seniors to experience bouts of forgetfulness, such as misplacing the car keys. Another instance of normal memory problems is slowing down when attempting to recall names, dates and events.
Age-associated memory impairment is considered to be a normal part of aging—and it does not signify that the senior has developed dementia. Memory challenges exist, but they do not disrupt the elderly individual’s life and are usually not a cause for concern.
In age-associated memory impairment, the senior is not affected by any health conditions that could cause memory loss. The aging person has no difficulty learning new things and information. Plus, this type of memory issues does not interfere with the senior’s ability to complete routine tasks.
Like being unable to find the car keys, seniors with age-related memory loss may forget the password to a website or be unable to recall the name of a former classmate. While seniors may not remember as quickly as they used to, it is not a sign of dementia.
Other examples of normal, age-related forgetfulness include being unable to remember the details of a conversation that took place a year ago, forgetting the name of an acquaintance and sporadically forgetting things and occasions. Seniors may also have occasional difficulty finding words.
In comparison, older adults who show signs of dementia are unable to recall details about recent events or conversations. Seniors affected by dementia are no longer able to recognize the names of family members, forget events frequently and often pause to find the right word.
When forgetfulness begins to interfere with the senior’s ability to perform everyday tasks, it is not considered a normal part of aging. A senior who forgets where he placed his eyeglasses shows disorganization, not memory loss. But when he forgets what they are used for, it is not normal.
What is mild cognitive impairment?
Mild cognitive impairment is not a normal part of aging. Researchers believe that mild cognitive impairment is the point between the normal, age-related memory loss and the early stages of dementia. However, not all seniors who develop mild cognitive impairment will develop dementia.
A senior who has mild cognitive impairment forgets recent events as well as the names of family members or close friends. Appointments and planned events are frequently forgotten and misplacing items occurs often. The senior has difficulty coming up with the right words.
A loss of focus occurs in seniors who develop mild cognitive impairment. The individual must write down reminders or he will forget them. He is able to pay bills, shop, clean, drive and take medications, but experiences difficulty completing these complex tasks.
How do seniors slow memory loss?
Seniors, however, can take steps to slow memory decline. One of the most effective activities is exercising twice a week. Older adults are also advised to maintain good blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels. Stop smoking and avoid excessive alcohol intake.
A healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, goes a long way toward improving brain health. Reduce stress and maintain a positive outlook. Get adequate sleep. Work out the brain by doing puzzles, reading, taking a class or learning a new hobby. Also stay socially active.
When an elderly loved one is diagnosed with dementia, extra support at home will be beneficial. Assisting Hands Home Care provides compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care to seniors living with any stage of dementia. Our care services are provided in the comfort and familiarity of home.
Our dementia caregivers are trained to identify symptoms of dementia, such as wandering or agitation. We take steps to calm the senior with distractions, which is shown to be effective. If the senior wanders, we gently lead him back to the safety of home. Incontinence issues are handled discreetly.
Dementia care from Assisting Hands Home Care includes a wide range of daily care responsibilities, such as meal preparation, medication reminders, grocery shopping, transportation to doctors’ offices and companionship. We provide comprehensive, nonmedical in-home care to the seniors we serve.
Families put their trust in Assisting Hands Home Care, because we deliver reliable home care to every elderly care recipient. Our home care services are available to seniors living in Glen Ellyn, IL | Warrenville, IL | Naperville, IL | Westmont, IL | Woodridge, IL | Lisle, IL | Plainfield, IL | Wheaton, IL and the surrounding areas. Call us at (630) 634-9316 today to schedule an in-home consult and start quality memory care.