Whether you’re a child caring for an aging parent or a personal care assistant of an older client, you may have questions about how to tell the difference between dementia and age-related memory loss.

As each of us grows older, we may experience forgetfulness or sudden lapses in memory, such as forgetting where we left our keys or an old friend’s last name. This type of age-related memory loss is normal, and though it may feel like an inconvenience to the person experiencing it, it doesn’t directly interfere with this individual’s daily life or cause disruption in his or her ability to live independently. Dementia, however, is a serious disease that affects a person’s behavior and cognitive health, including memory, speech, and the ability to rationalize (National Institute on Aging).

Though each condition is different, sometimes, these terms (dementia and memory loss) are used interchangeably, which is why it’s so essential to understand the differences between the two, so you know when to seek help for a loved one in need of professional memory care.

What Causes Memory Loss in Older Adults?

Why is it considered “normal” to experience a certain level of memory loss as you get older? The reason for why memory loss is more common among older adults may have more to do with lifestyle changes rather than a “natural” progression:

“The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it. Your lifestyle, habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your brain, ” (HelpGuide.org).

How can seniors improve memory?

Keeping your brain in top condition is essential as you age. So, whether you enjoy crossword puzzles, Sudoku, chess, or scrabble, it’s important to train your brain every day to help strengthen your memory. If you’re caring for a loved one, it’s a good idea to limit their television time and incorporate memory-strengthening games or activities (e.g., gardening, painting, crafting, dancing, etc.) to help boost their brain power and cognitive skills.

Of course, in certain cases, memory loss may result from a recent health issue (e.g., stroke) or an underlying condition. For instance, a loved one may experience certain abnormal cognitive behaviors, in addition to memory loss, such as:

  • Forgetting how to complete a task (problem solve)
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Frequently repeating questions
  • Inability to remember close family member’s names
  • Getting lost (unable to retrace steps)
  • Exhibiting regular fear or nervousness
  • Forgetting how to use a certain household item (i.e., spoon, glass, washing machine, etc.)

These types of behaviors will directly impact your loved one’s ability to live independently, so to help avoid injury or other serious issues from occurring, it’s important to have your loved one examined by a doctor to learn if he or she is experiencing symptoms of dementia or another serious memory-related disease.

What To Do When A Loved One Needs Memory Care

Knowing that your parents are in good hands is a peace of mind we all deserve. At Primrose, we make it our mission to provide the best memory care services to both new and existing residents, who may require different health services as they age.

Our memory care apartments are spacious, beautiful and designed specifically to complement our person-centered care approach, which means we always show every individual respect and dignity. To learn about our memory care apartments, available at select communities, reach out to us today!

We understand this decision is difficult, but we want you to know you’re not alone, and we are here to ensure you loved ones have access to the care and support they need to live life to its fullest potential.

To learn more, contact us today!