How is Dementia Different From Normal Aging?

July 30, 2021 | BY PHS Staff

Most of us get more forgetful as we get older. It’s natural, common and completely normal. It may take you longer to remember where you put your keys, or you may get distracted when you walk into a room. It may even be harder to multi-task as efficiently as you used to. You’ll start to notice these changes as you hit your 40s and 50s, worsening a bit through each decade.

For most people, this is nothing to worry about. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. But for others, these changes can signal early onset dementia. How do you know the difference? How can Alzheimer’s in home care help?

Aging Vs. Dementia

While there are some minor changes in cognition that are considered to be a normal part of aging, dementia is not a normal part of aging. Normal age-related decline usually takes place slowly over time, with subtle effects that usually impact the speed of thinking and attentional control. Most of us will experience some memory loss as we get on in years. In fact, nearly 40 percent of us will experience some form of memory loss after turning 65 years old. But even with that loss, the chances are small that you will have dementia. You can still live your life every day with no problems.

In cases of abnormal aging, though, such as the onset of dementia, signs of cognitive decline are more severe and usually affect other aspects of thinking abilities, such as problems navigating and solving common problems, rapid forgetfulness, a lessened ability to express yourself in conversation, and the violation of common social behavior rules.

Dementia often affects the motor system, which means you could be experiencing more falls, imbalances, trips, and tremors.

Now, let’s dive deeper into mild cognitive impairment (MCI) vs. dementia, which both involve a decline in cognition beyond what’s expected for your age and development. Generally, cognitive decline with MCI usually doesn’t impact your ability to carry out everyday tasks such as driving, cooking and shopping. Dementia, on the other hand, does impact your ability to complete those tasks.

Dementia: What to Watch Out For

If you are concerned about a loved one who may be displaying signs of dementia, yet you’re still unsure if it’s something to get help for or if it’s just normal aging, here are some symptoms to keep an eye out for. Your loved one may:

  • Frequently get lost in familiar places
  • Ask repeated questions
  • Display odd or inappropriate behaviors
  • Forget recent events
  • Fall repeatedly or experience imbalance
  • Show changes in personality
  • Have difficulty planning and organizing
  • Change diet or eating habits
  • Forget to bathe
  • Appear increasingly apathetic
  • Show changes in language abilities (including comprehension)

Sometimes, the progression of dementia and other cognitive deficits may progress very slowly over several years. In other cases, events such as illnesses, injuries or life stressors can trigger symptoms quite quickly. This is why it’s important to get regular check-ups by a doctor to monitor cognitive decline, and to consider Alzheimer’s care when necessary for the safety of your loved one at home.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Find out how our Alzheimer’s home care in Martinsburg can help when you contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.