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Normal Memory Loss vs Dementia

normal memory loss vs dementia

When our parents reach a certain age, we begin to wonder if their memory slips are normal or warning signs of dementia.
Memory loss is a normal part of life. At any age, it may be caused by stress, vitamin B-12 deficiency, depression or a host of other reasons.
Are your parents at risk for dementia? Are you? Find out here!
We usually dismiss these occasional lapses until our parents reach a certain age. Then, we start to notice their conversation and actions much more, especially if Mom forgets the name of the person they met just yesterday or Dad can’t find his car keys.
And while our parents may resent it if the additional attention becomes too intrusive, it’s important we watch, because the earlier dementia is diagnosed, the greater the likelihood treatment can prolong memory and cognition.

Normal Memory Loss vs Dementia

Real-Life Examples of Dementia Warning Signs

Additional warning signs include withdrawing from activities they formerly enjoyed. For example, if Dad decides to convert his garage workshop back to a garage, you may want to look into the reasons why. If your parents played bridge every Saturday night for years, then stopped, dig deeper.

Sudden mood swings for no apparent reason are a precursor to dementia. Men, especially, seem to become more aggressive when they develop dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association cautions that the reason may be discomfort or confusion they’re unable to adequately express and can usually be prevented.

A change in hygiene habits may be a symptom of several problems. Your parent could be depressed, which itself is viewed as a precursor to dementia. Your parent could be afraid of slipping and falling in the bath. Or your parent may be experiencing symptoms of dementia.

If trash is piling up inside the home, your parent may have difficulty remembering trash pick-up day or that the trash should be taken out.

If your parent accuses you of never visiting, that may be a sign they are losing track of time.

Is your parent dressed unseasonably for the weather, perhaps wearing a winter coat in the summer or putting on street clothes over their pajamas? That is another warning sign they have lost track of time.

If your parent forgets the last time they ate, even if they just had breakfast, they may eat too much. Losing weight is also a symptom, because some seniors forget they’re hungry and don’t eat enough. Both of these may be symptoms of other illnesses, so make sure you consult your parent’s doctor.

What to Do If Your Senior Parent Exhibits Dementia Symptoms

If you’re concerned your parent may be developing dementia, the first step is to get them to their doctor’s office. Symptoms of other illnesses or diseases may resemble those of dementia, and many of them are treatable.

AARP notes 8 disorders common among seniors that are treatable:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Medication interactions
  • Depression or another mental health disorder
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol abuse

Your parent’s doctor can rule out these problems so your parent can be treated appropriately.

Additional Help for Adult Children Concerned about Dementia

We can’t possibly cover all aspects of dementia in one article. However, we’ve developed a library of information to answer questions you may have about your parents as they grow older.  Topics range from mind-body health to how prayer can prevent caregiver stress.

Other sources of information about dementia include:


Alzheimer’s Association

Alzheimer’s Reading Room

The Esquiline Fosters Wellness

Physical wellness, intellectual wellness, social wellness, and spiritual wellness are not only methods to prevent dementia, they are the four pillars of well-being at The Esquiline. As a continuing care community, we offer independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing under one roof to meet the needs of your parents.

Can our emphasis on physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual wellness enhance your parents’ lives? Find out by calling us at 800-533-6279 or contacting us online.

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