A lot of folks notice that as they get a little older, their recall isn’t as sharp as it was. When this happens, it can be very worrying. You will likely find yourself asking, is memory loss normal as you age?
The short answer is yes. Some memory loss is just a normal part of aging. That means being forgetful doesn’t always mean Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Age-related brain changes make it harder to learn new things, remember things after you hear them, or keep track of small objects or tasks.
With that being said, it’s smart to pay attention to the way your brain is working. By learning the early signs of dementia you can not only set your mind at ease but know how to identify any red flags of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
What is Normal Age-Related Memory Loss?
Just like the rest of your body, your brain changes with age. You might notice that you’re losing keys, forgetting names, or having trouble recalling new things you’ve learned. Or, you might feel like your mind is slowing down.
“Senior moments” like this are normal. Age-related memory loss and slower reaction time are just part of life for many of us as we get older. Even occasionally forgetting to pay a bill or losing track of a new neighbor’s name is not a cause for alarm.
Small lapses in memory or focus that don’t interfere with your daily life are not usually red flags. But what things are?
What Are the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease can be hard to distinguish from regular age-related memory loss. An Alzheimer’s sufferer sometimes asks the same question over and over again. They may call objects by the wrong name without noticing.
Daily tasks can be hard for Alzheimer’s sufferers. For example, simple or familiar jobs like using the microwave or driving to the store without getting lost become a challenge. Instead of forgetting a new friend’s name, someone with Alzheimer’s disease might forget names of family members.
Alzheimer’s may make it hard to recognize your own possessions or forget that you usually wear glasses, or how to turn on your car. Disorientation like this is always a red flag, even if it is minor or passing.
What Other Kinds of Memory Loss Are There?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of memory loss but not the only type. Abnormal memory loss is also known as dementia. Each kind of dementia is unique in its cause and effects.
Vascular dementia can happen after a stroke or as a result of heart disease. Lewy body dementia often leads to sleep problems and hallucinations. Parkinson’s disease can cause dementia symptoms, as can Huntington’s disease. Frontotemporal dementia affects behavior and personality.
These are just a few of the different kinds of dementia that we recognize today. They are less common than Alzheimer’s but just as serious.
What Do I Do If I Think I’m Losing My Memory?
If you are worried about memory loss or other signs of cognitive decline, call your doctor first. It may be helpful to write down any red flags you’ve noticed. You should always let your doctor know if you notice:
- Memory changes that interfere with your daily life
- Confusion about places or people you know very well, like home or family
- Mood swings
- Difficulty adjusting to change
- Forgetting to care for yourself or do regular tasks like paying bills
- Frequent lapses in short-term memory
Dementia is often a progressive disease. Progressive diseases get worse over time, especially without treatment. Therefore, it’s always best to catch dementia as early as possible; early treatment can slow dementia down by years in some cases.
Many people with early stage dementia are afraid to tell anyone that they are having a problem. But it’s crucial not to hide dementia symptoms. The sooner dementia is caught and treated, the better a dementia sufferer will do. It is important to get help as soon as you can if you or a loved one are noticing any of the problems listed above.
What Happens if I Have Dementia?
Over time, most folks with dementia will need help to care for themselves. For a while, this can happen at home. However, in most cases, dementia will eventually require skilled care.
Many seniors with dementia choose to move into a special assisted living residence where they can receive dementia care, a special type of skilled nursing that can help restore and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Are you caring for a loved one with dementia and wondering if dementia care is the right choice? Click here now to learn more about dementia care at New Haven Assisted Living and see how we can help you provide the best care available.