forgetfulness or dementia

One of the most challenging aspects of memory loss is knowing how to recognize it. Should I be worried that I misplaced my keys or forgot the name of a family friend – or are these all just normal symptoms of aging that I don’t need to worry about?

Provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), these data points are here to help you recognize where dementia may or may not be present in the lives of older adults.

Age-related forgetfulness.

  • Occasionally misplacing items. This happens to all of us from time to time – whether it’s because we were in a rush or because a loved one moved something someplace else. Remember to be mindful and present – and avoid self-diagnosing over what is often a very human mistake.
  • Missing a monthly payment. Keeping up with bills these days is challenging enough for anyone. Enroll in autopay options, set reminders on your phone, or leave notes on the fridge to ensure your payments are always up to date.
  • Forgetting which day it is and remembering later. Think about how often you’ve heard someone say, “is it just me, or does this Tuesday feel like a Wednesday?”. Odds are they weren’t experiencing a symptom of dementia – they were just mixing up their days because of a change-up in their routine.
  • Sometimes forgetting which word to use. AKA “Tip of The Tongue” states, or TOTs. Scientists find that young adults experience TOTs roughly once a week, while older adults experience them about once a day.

Signs of dementia.

  • Frequently making unwise or unhealthy decisions. Excess spending, refusing to eat, or otherwise putting yourself at risk could all be signs of a dementia-related illness. 
  • Difficulty keeping track of the bills. Payments have been missed for several consecutive months and have gone unnoticed by the individual responsible for paying them.   
  • Noticeable difficulty with conversation. Slurring words, abruptly spacing out, or forgetting the person you’re talking to are all indicators of someone who could be at risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • Losing track of the date or time of year. While it’s not uncommon to mix up days of the week, mixing up seasons or forgetting the year itself could be an indicator of a larger issue.

Remember – blogs like these are a great way to start the conversation, but consulting your doctor first will always be the best resource for receiving a proper diagnosis. To learn more about age-related symptoms and symptoms related to dementia, visit the NIA’s page on cognitive health located here.

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