Normal aging vs dementia

Have you ever walked into a room and forgot why you went in there? Spent 5 minutes looking for your eyeglasses only to realize they were on your head? Or how about having to retrace your steps in order to figure out where you left your car keys? We’ve all done something similar and wondered silently if maybe, just maybe we should be concerned.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging. Once over the age of 65, approximately 40% of people experience some form of memory loss. When there is no real underlying medical reason for memory loss, it is considered a part of the normal aging process.

So how can we tell the difference between Normal Aging and Dementia? Below are some examples of each.

NORMAL AGING

DEMENTIA

Occasional difficulty finding a word Frequent difficulty finding words and substitutes words
Occasionally forgetting things, events Frequently forgetting things and events
Not being able to remember details of events or conversations that took place long ago and can remember details of recent events/conversations Not being able to remember details of events and conversations both recent and long ago
Occasionally forgetting names of acquaintances Forgetting the names of family members/close friends
You become more concerned about your memory loss Family/friends become more concerned about memory loss
Social skills remain intact Reduced, inappropriate social skills
Remains independent in daily living activities Requires assistance to complete daily living activities

Maintaining good brain health as we age is critical. Incorporate these easy tips into your daily routine to help cope with occasional memory loss associated with healthy aging.

  • Keep daily routines and organize information through calendars or day planners.
  • Get plenty of sleep at night!
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water and exercise. Walking daily is great!
  • Protect your head!! Repeated concussions can increase your risk of dementia. Wear a helmet when riding a bike, ice skating or skiing.
  • Reduce the incidence of falls with daily falls prevention. Remove tripping hazards from your home, ensure proper lighting, safe handrails around stairs and eliminate slippery surfaces.
  • Challenge your brain by using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth. Learn a new skill, language or art and keep up with hobbies.
  • Fight isolation and loneliness by maintaining social connections through volunteering, working, joining clubs, travelling and having hobbies.
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