As we age, our brain undergoes changes that impact our cognitive abilities and its physical structure — both of which are a normal part of aging. Older adults may need more time to accomplish certain tasks as their cognition slows down. Multitasking, focusing, and remembering certain things aren’t as easy as they used to be.
While mild forgetfulness and slow cognitive decline are typical of aging, memory loss that’s severe enough to impact daily life can be a sign of dementia.
Learn the differences between typical age-related memory loss and dementia, and how professional memory care can help those with dementia stay safe and well.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is characterized by a cognitive decline that affects a person’s memory and ability to think, reason, problem-solve, and accomplish daily tasks. While dementia worsens over time, it is not a normal part of aging.
There are different types of dementia, all of which are caused when the brain’s neurons become damaged or stop working. Different forms of dementia include:
- Vascular dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Lewy body dementia
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Mixed dementia, which includes a combination of different dementias
Symptoms of Dementia
The severity of dementia progresses over time. Symptoms of dementia include cognitive changes such as confusion, memory loss, and difficulty communicating, reasoning, or completing familiar tasks. People with dementia often struggle to follow step-by-step directions and learn new things. They may also have changes in their personality, behaviors, and mental health such as increased agitation, anxiety, depression, and more.
Risk Factors of Dementia
Some may develop dementia or dementia-like symptoms due to other disorders. Huntington’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are two disorders that heavily impact the brain. Those with Down syndrome or Parkinson’s disease are likely to develop dementia later on.
Other risk factors for dementia include:
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Lack of physical activity
- High alcohol consumption
- A family history of dementia
- Heart issues such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
- Traumatic brain injuries
Memory Loss Versus Dementia
It can be hard to distinguish between “normal” age-related memory loss and dementia. Here are some examples of age-related memory loss versus dementia.
|Age-Related Memory Loss:||Dementia:|
|While driving, they miss a turn and then realize it||While driving, they get disoriented and confused in a familiar area|
|Forgetting which word to use occasionally||Struggling to have a conversation|
|Making poor decisions from time to time||Consistent poor judgment and decision making|
|Forgetting what day it is, but remembering later on||Inability to remember the date or year|
Memory loss can be caused by other medical conditions such as an infection, metabolic, thyroid, or immune disorders, head injuries, vitamin deficiencies, and more. Certain medications can have interactions or side effects that create dementia-like symptoms. Once these conditions are treated, these symptoms typically subside.
If you suspect a loved one is experiencing symptoms of dementia, consult with a healthcare professional. They will be able to determine the cause and come up with a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
The Importance of Proper Memory Care
Dementia isn’t reversible or curable, however, there are things you can do to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved ones if they suffer from dementia. There is a range of treatments that may lessen dementia’s symptoms. Different types of therapies and medications may be offered as a way to help their condition. Certain activities and lifestyle changes designed for those suffering from dementia can reduce confusion, improve mental health, and provide a sense of comfort and fulfillment.
People with dementia are more vulnerable to safety risks. They’re likely to wander and get disoriented — increasing the likelihood of getting injured or lost. They also may not know how or remember to seek medical attention should they need it. In addition to affecting their memory, dementia can impact the senses, which are valuable tools we use to identify safety threats such as smoke from a fire or spoiled food. Senior living communities that offer professional memory care have a staff that is fully equipped to care for those suffering from dementia and other memory challenges.
If you notice an older adult in your life is having memory issues that interfere with their daily life, it may be time to consider professional memory care. Living in a community that’s specifically designed for older adults with memory issues can improve their quality of life and increase their safety.
Choose Aviva Senior Living As Your Memory Care Community
While those with dementia face challenges in their daily life, with the right team of support and a nurturing environment, they can have a full life. Anchin Memory Care at Aviva offers a range of benefits to help our residents with memory challenges. We offer a steady routine of calming activities and therapies designed specifically for people with memory challenges. Our highly trained nursing and security staff are available 24/7 to ensure our residents have the safest living conditions possible.
Contact us today to find out whether Aviva is the right place for your loved one.