Forgetfulness is something all of us experience once in a while; it may be misplacing our car keys or forgetting to lock the door. However, it can be a concerning matter for aging people, making memory care a common consideration for many families opting for elder care. In the United States alone, around 5.8 million people have Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Unfortunately, it can be quite challenging to determine if someone is experiencing actual memory loss or dementia.
In this article, we will explore the differences between these two cognitive impairments, and share some signs that will help you tell when it’s time to move your aging loved ones to advanced elder care.
What Is Memory Loss?
Memory loss is a type of cognitive decline that can affect aging people; it can be either short-term or long-term. Short-term memory loss is when one forgets things that happened recently, while long-term memory loss occurs when one forgets things that happened in the past. Memory loss is often normal and not a cause for concern, but in some cases, it can also be a sign of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
As your parents or people dear to you grow older, you will notice a significant difference in how they remember things, especially with their everyday tasks. Natural age-related memory loss may be noticed in elderly people who ask the same question multiple times, forget common words when speaking, take longer to complete familiar tasks, or lose track of dates and seasons.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a common term that describes a decline in cognitive function. It can include memory loss, but it also includes other symptoms, like problems with language, thinking, and judgment. Dementia is often used to describe the more severe cases of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease.
While memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, individuals suffering from it may experience more than that. Unfortunately, it can progress to something more serious that goes beyond memory loss, requiring you to seek professional help and assistance from memory care facilities.
Symptoms of dementia include the following:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges with problem-solving or planning
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or leisure activities
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- Sudden problems with words in speaking or writing
- Frequent misplacement of things
- Loss of ability to retrace steps
- Poor judgment or decision-making
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
These are also signs it’s time to move your loved one into a memory care facility. If you have noticed any of these changes in your loved one, it’s recommended that you consult with a physician right away. They can give you a diagnosis and start them on the road to treatment.
Memory Loss: Is It Age-Related or Dementia?
If a senior in your family is suffering from memory loss, you should determine if it is age-related, or worse, an early sign of dementia, so you can plan accordingly for their sake. Here are some differences between age-related memory loss and dementia.
- Dementia has a wider scope of symptoms that includes a decline in other cognitive functions like language and thinking. Memory loss, on the other hand, is typically just one symptom of dementia.
- Memory loss can be a normal part of aging, but dementia is not. In fact, 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed.
- Dementia is a progressive disease, meaning its symptoms will slowly get worse over time. For people with normal age-related memory loss, however, the symptoms don’t progress much.
- Memory loss is NOT a terminal disease, unlike dementia.
Is It Time for a Memory Care Facility?
Regardless of whether it’s memory loss or dementia, as soon as you determine that your elderly loved one is suffering from a cognitive illness, it’s a sign that means you need to seek professional help and move them to a memory care facility.
If you need help finding the right facility for your aging loved one, our senior care advisors at Senior Living Selections can help you without any cost. Feel free to contact us if you need help looking for a trusted elder care facility in Florida!