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How To Tell the Difference Between Forgetfulness and Dementia

senior woman with dementia sitting with her loved one

Forgetfulness can happen to anyone, especially seniors. As you or a loved one gets older, they may have moments where they forget something or need to rely on more reminder methods than they used to.

While these moments come with aging, some signs could indicate that something more serious is occurring. Dementia is a form of memory loss that isn’t a natural part of aging. The National Institute on Aging states dementia includes cognitive decline and loss of behavioral abilities, affecting the person’s quality of life.

Knowing the difference between forgetfulness vs. dementia can help you identify the natural signs of aging and the warning signs of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

crafts can help boost memory power and differentiate forgetfulness vs dementia

Symptoms of Normal Age-Related Forgetfulness

You may have heard of “senior moments,” where older adults experience a brief moment of forgetfulness. The extent that it interferes with their daily life is relatively minimal and doesn’t put them at risk of harm. The following are some common examples of age-related forgetfulness:

  • Forgetting a word. Your loved one may need to take a moment to come up with the right word or forget the word they wanted to use in conversation. If this happens every once in a while, it’s most likely just related to aging.
  • Misplacing items. Sometimes, your loved one may misplace an item and not recall where they put it, but it doesn’t happen on a day-to-day basis.
  • Momentarily forgetting the date. Your loved one may forget what day of the week it is, or the date, but then correctly recall it later.
  • Missing bills. Occasionally missing a payment for something can happen. While it may not be a sign of dementia, your loved one may look into using notes or other types of reminders to help them keep track of their bills.
  • Sometimes having poor judgment. Your loved one may have made one poor decision, but there isn’t a repeated pattern of bad judgment calls.

seniors talking outside

Potential Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia affects the areas of the brain that process and store information, meaning that people with dementia experience mental issues ranging from memory loss to personality changes.
Identifying dementia as early as possible can help your loved one get memory care that can potentially slow the loss of cognitive functioning and improve their daily lives.

  • Being confused. Disorientation is often associated with dementia. This can cause the person to be confused about where they are and what day it is. You may also notice they are repeatedly losing things.
  • Memory problems. Your loved one could have issues recalling recent memories, someone’s name, or the names of everyday objects.
  • Repeating questions. You may notice your loved one asking you the same question after you’ve answered them.
  • Repeatedly missing bills. If your loved one stops taking care of their finances, it could be due to dementia.
  • Making poor decisions regularly. This could present in a number of ways, including but not limited to, your loved one not taking care of their hygiene, putting themselves in dangerous situations, or not dressing appropriately for the weather.

If you’ve started to notice any of these symptoms in a loved one, it’s important to start a conversation with a general physician or neurologist. After a dementia diagnosis, memory rehabilitation help for dementia might be beneficial for your loved one.

The Moorings of Arlington Heights has many programs aimed at boosting memory power, including exercise classes

Memory Support at The Moorings of Arlington Heights

When your loved one has dementia, memory care can provide them with the support they need. The Highlands Memory Support at The Moorings is a calm and welcoming environment where residents with dementia receive care that enriches their daily lives.

The programming at The Highlands takes a person-centered approach, ensuring that residents of all abilities can participate in fun activities that stimulate their minds and enhance their day-to-day experiences through choice and social interaction.

The Highlands Memory Support at the Moorings believes in providing a dignified, joyful living experience where your loved one can thrive.

The Moorings Health Care Center also has rehabilitation designed for those in memory care. Our expertise draws on thirty years of providing quality care for older adults with dementia. A skilled team of physicians, social workers, therapists, nurses, and more will provide your loved one with the compassionate care they need to heal.

The team works together to support your loved one and help them flourish – whether recovering strength, regaining speech abilities, or maintaining motor skills.

Our Memory Care in Arlington Heights, IL, is built to foster a sense of belonging, promote well-being, and make the most of life. Contact us to learn more about senior living at The Moorings of Arlington Heights.