Recognizing the Differences Between the Normal Effects of Aging and Dementia

  • 5 Comments
  • Posted on Oct. 19th, 2011

We all forget things, especially if we are low on sleep or high on stress, but we start to worry when aging loved ones exhibit forgetfulness when life is good. Is it Alzheimer’s, we ask ourselves, or dementia? By becoming familiar with the varying forms and symptoms of dementia, we can understand the differences between normal and abnormal brain function in aging friends and loved ones.

What is Dementia?

A long time ago “senility” was a word used to describe the loss of mental capacity in the aged. Today, dementia is the term used to describe a host of symptoms that include the diminishing ability to remember, solve problems, or perform other cognitive tasks.

The following is a list of symptoms we may observe in the early stages of dementia:

  • A change in mood or levels of anger
  • Difficulty finding the right word
  • Trouble completing everyday tasks like housework or balancing the checkbook
  • Losing a sense of place
  • Inability to make sound decisions
  • Becoming suspicious or frightened without cause

If these early symptoms continue and are accompanied by worsening symptoms, it is important to make an appointment for a physical evaluation. These worsening symptoms might include:

  • Inability to carry out basic daily hygiene
  • Poor, disrupted, or flipped sleep cycles
  • Aggression or lewd behavior
  • Hallucinations

There are many possible causes for dementia. Strokes, thyroid conditions, and deposits of plaque or the presence of Lewy bodies can all cause the symptoms of dementia. Quick attention to symptoms can often lead to a rapid diagnosis and treatment, greatly reducing the severity of the impairment.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease makes up over 50% of all dementia cases. It is a progressive disease that slowly incapacitates the cognitive functioning of sufferers. It is a disease related to age and usually strikes after the age of 65. It is currently an incurable disease—most patients survive for about 10 years after they are diagnosed.

Like many progressive diseases, Alzheimer’s has many stages. Physicians will help friends and loved ones understand how to support the sufferer through each stage. Many outstanding support groups exist to aid families and friends and as well as the Alzheimer patient.

It is not uncommon for someone of advanced years to mislay keys or forget the right word.  By becoming familiar with the signs and symptoms of age-related brain diseases such as dementia we can recognize the difference between the normal effects of aging and brain disease. This knowledge will enable us to give the best of care to our loved ones.

  • 5 Comments... Add your opinion!
  1. On Oct. 19 2011 @ 2:12 pm George Wilson said

    Aging really takes a tole on the body. Whatever problem the elderly might have whether it dementia or just growing older make sure they have the proper care they need. There are more and more mobility aids out there to help those in need. It is awesome how each of these products is able to change the lives of those who use them. It makes me wonder what type of mobility aids we will have the more technology changes our lives. A lot to look forward too.

    reply to this comment
  2. On Oct. 20 2011 @ 8:11 am ClearCare said

    By no means is Alzheimer’s a normal part of aging, and providing care for those afflicted can be a high stress task for both family and professional caregivers. It is an incurable form of dementia that affects an individual’s memory, behavior and thinking patterns. The effects of Alzheimer’s typically become worse over time and interfere with an individual’s ability to complete normal activities of daily living, as well as their ability to recognize typically familiar people. When family caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease choose to contract a homecare agency to provide additional care, it is imperative to know the intricacies of Alzheimer’s care. While logging the completion of tasks in care journals is important for all clients, tracking the daily activities of a client with Alzheimer’s becomes even more so. Family members need to know how much a loved one has eaten, whether or not they have bathed and what activities have taken place that day. It is, therefore, imperative for elder care agencies to integrate a senior care software into their care management system.

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  3. On Oct. 24 2011 @ 7:55 pm Rob said

    My mom is in her 80’s and lives 1500 miles away. When I visit I am very disturbed with her rapidly declining health. She is becoming so much more confused and anxious and regressive. But she also represents for me a template for who I could become myself, as I am aging. I am afraid of being confused and anxious and regressive and dependent the way she has become. I am finding it more of a struggle to be Aging Gracefully.

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  4. On Nov. 7 2011 @ 6:29 pm jp phan said

    The overall prevalence with dementia in this population, 67.7%, is among the highest claimed in Assisted Living. This particular likely results through two factors. Very first, there was a low detection rate of dementia by simply caregivers in this research, which may have afflicted the estimates involving other studies that will did not use immediate examination. Their caregivers would not identify more than one-?fth (Twenty-two.4%) of participants using dementia as such.

    reply to this comment
  5. [...] with the varying forms and symptoms of dementia, we can understand the differences between [...] Elder Care ABC This entry was posted in In Home Care and tagged Aging, Between, Dementia, Differences, Effects, [...]

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