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Memory Loss: Am I Getting Dementia?

Memory Loss: Am I Getting Dementia?

Memory loss is one of the biggest fears for seniors. It’s certainly understandable as statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association state that one in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease, and that someone in the United States develops it every 65 seconds. But it’s important to keep in mind that memory loss does not always mean Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Learn how to determine the difference between age-related memory loss or something more.

The Facts on Forgetfulness

Memory loss is one of the biggest fears for seniors. It’s certainly understandable as statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association state that one in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease, and that someone in the United States develops it every 65 seconds. But it’s important to keep in mind that memory loss does not always mean Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Learn how to determine the difference between age-related memory loss or something more.

Everyone has moments of forgetfulness. Whether it’s losing your cellphone, forgetting a name, wondering why you walked into a room or maybe just taking a little longer to learn and recall information in general, this isn’t always cause for concern just because of your age. In fact, there are normal brain changes that can occur as you get older. For example:

  • A region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, the hippocampus, can deteriorate with age.
  • Hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells, as well as stimulate growth of new cells can also decline with age.
  • Some seniors may also experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which can impair memory and lead to cognitive changes.

But, significant memory loss is not the result of aging because the brain is a muscle that is capable of producing new cells at any age. That’s why you hear so much about how your lifestyle, habits and daily activities affect your brain health and can help reduce your risk for memory loss.

Memory Loss and Dementia

Most often, the distinguishing factor as to whether changes in memory are age-related or something more is whether or not they affect your ability to work, live independently and/or function socially. Noticeable impact to your daily life can be one of the first signs of dementia. According to the Mayo Clinic, early signs include:

  • Repeatedly asking the same questions 
  • Forgetting common words when speaking
  • Mixing words up or misusing words when speaking
  • Taking longer to complete familiar tasks, such as following a recipe or paying bills
  • Misplacing things in inappropriate places, such as putting a wallet in the pantry
  • Getting lost while walking or driving in a familiar area
  • Having changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason
  • Having trouble making choices, poor judgement or suddenly behaving in socially inappropriate ways

Alzheimer’s Disease versus Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, Alzheimer’s is only one type of dementia, although it is the most common type. Dementia is not a disease in and of itself; rather it’s a group of symptoms associated with a decline in thinking, reasoning and/or memory that impairs your ability to perform daily activities and progressively worsens over time.

Dementia is actually caused by damage to brain cells. Different types of dementia can affect different parts of the brain. Symptoms can vary, but according to WebMD, typically at least two of these functions must be significantly impaired:

It’s important to note that there are a range of conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia and some can be reversed such as those caused by thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies making early diagnosis vital.

When to Seek Help for Memory Loss

If you are concerned about memory loss for yourself or a loved one, there’s no reason to wait to see a doctor. Not only can it give you peace of mind, if there is a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease early diagnosis is beneficial for a number of reasons including:

Memory Care Options

Initially you may decide assistance at home works best. But if and when needs progress, assisted living and memory care are the two most common options outside the home.

Assisted Living – Provides housing and assistance with daily activities such as bathing and dressing. Communities offer onsite medical care, emergency call systems, wellness programs, numerous social activities, three daily meals and transportation in a welcoming environment that enhances quality of life and supports independence.

Memory Care – Designed to nurture those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia specifically. You’ll find 24-hour supervision, individualized care by specially trained staff and an environment that is secure and easy to navigate. Cognitive therapy, structured activities, social opportunities and even dining options designed to enhance nutrition and independence are typically provided.

In our senior living community, both assisted living and memory care can be found on the same campus to provide added peace of mind, continuity of care and ensure a smooth transition as care needs evolve.

For more information on memory care, contact Richfield today.

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