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What Is the Difference Between Dementia and Forgetfulness?

a senior talks about the difference between Dementia vs forgetfulness with a doctor

One of the most difficult things about growing older is seeing our loved ones slowly decline. As our parents and grandparents age, it’s normal for them to experience some memory loss and forgetfulness. But how can you tell if these changes are simply a part of aging or something more serious, like dementia?

Spotting the signs of dementia vs. forgetfulness is vital to finding senior memory care that can support your loved ones as they age. Buckner Villas offers premier memory care to seniors. With a healthy nutrition plan, skilled nursing, housekeeping, and maintenance services, your loved ones can live safely and comfortably during their stay. Call 512.580.9882 to learn more about dementia vs. forgetfulness so you can find memory care when your loved ones need it.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a broad term that describes a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is just one symptom of dementia; others include problems with language, executive function (like reasoning and planning), and visuospatial skills (like the ability to perceive the world accurately and navigate through space). There are two primary types of dementia: Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-70% of all cases. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that damages and kills neurons in the brain, resulting in memory loss, impaired thinking and reasoning, and changes in mood and behavior. The cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown, but several risk factors include older age, family history, and Down syndrome. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatments available to help manage its symptoms.

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Lewy body dementia is caused by the abnormal accumulation of Lewy bodies in the brain. These protein clumps disrupt normal brain function, leading to memory, thinking, and movement problems. The symptoms of Lewy body dementia are similar to those of Alzheimer’s but may also include hallucinations and delusions. There is no cure for Lewy body dementia, but treatments are available to help manage its symptoms.

Signs of Dementia

The symptoms of dementia can vary depending on the type, but there are some general warning signs you can look out for. If your loved one is experiencing any of the following changes, it’s important to consult with their doctor right away:

  • Memory loss that disrupts their daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work, or leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace their steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawing from social activities and interests
  • Changes in mood or personality

An early diagnosis is essential because it can help your loved one receive treatment and support as soon as possible. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing dementia, but treatments can help slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life.

How Do You Know if Your Loved One Is Showing Forgetfulness or Dementia?

The best way to determine if your loved one’s symptoms are due to dementia vs. forgetfulness is to consult with their doctor. To diagnose dementia, doctors will conduct a physical exam, assess their medical history, and administer cognitive tests. Once a diagnosis has been made, the doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the type and severity of the symptoms. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that there is no cure for dementia; treatments are focused on managing symptoms and slowing disease progression.

The Importance of Knowing the Difference Between Memory Loss and Forgetfulness

It’s normal for our parents and grandparents to experience some degree of memory loss as they ageā€”this doesn’t necessarily mean they have dementia. However, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of dementia so you can catch it early if it does develop. An early diagnosis allows your loved one to receive treatment that can improve their quality of life. Additionally, knowing the difference between age-related forgetfulness and dementia can help you provide support in ways that are most beneficial for your loved one.

Memory Care at Buckner Villas

When the time comes to find memory care, consider Buckner Villas. Buckner is a trusted name in senior living in Texas. Residents in our dedicated memory care community, The Harbor, enjoy the security and care of our compassionate staff. Learn more about the importance of memory care for seniors by contacting us at 512.580.9882.