06 Sep Aging Vs. Alzheimer’s- How to Tell the Difference
Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the most common illnesses to impact the senior community today with more than 5.7 million adults living with this disease. As most people already know, Alzheimer’s is most commonly characterized by signs of dementia, memory loss and changes in behavior. Early signs of these cognitive changes can be alarming to any individual, especially when you notice it in a loved one. The truth of the matter is almost 40 percent of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. This memory loss, also sometimes known as “age-associated memory impairment” is a relatively normal part of the aging process.
It can be really easy to misinterpret the signs of normal memory-related memory issues. Many people, unfortunately, assume that the symptoms of healthy aging are early signs of Alzheimer’s, while just as many people may wave off the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s as only part of the aging process. This is why it is so important to understand the difference. Here are some of the most common symptoms that people see, and how to tell if they are signs of aging or Alzheimer’s.
Memory Loss: Failing to remember the details of an event that took place several months ago is a normal side effect of aging. Not being able to recall details of a recent event may be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
Recognizing Names/Faces: If a senior loved one fails to remember the name of a casual acquaintance, it is likely a normal sign of aging. Failing to recognize the faces or names of family members and close loved ones is likely a sign of dementia.
Forgetfulness: Seniors who forget where they set their keys are just dealing with normal memory loss, while those who forget to pay their bills altogether, or forget where they are or where they are driving to, may be struggling with dementia.
Finding Words: Occasionally struggling to find the right word when talking is completely normal, however, if someone frequently pauses and struggles to find words or substitutes words that don’t make sense (i.e. saying “banana” instead of “toaster”) is a possible sign of dementia.
Recognition of a Problem: If a senior is worried about their memory but their relatives are not, this is typically just a side effect of normal aging. Most seniors who are aware of their memory slip ups, and whose families aren’t, are just dealing with aging-related memory loss. However, if a senior is not aware of any problems, but their family and loved ones are worried about their memory—it is most commonly a sign of dementia.
If you are worried that you, or a loved one, may be showing some of the early signs of dementia, it is important that you visit a doctor right away. The earlier you can detect issues with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the better. If you have more questions or want to meet with a doctor schedule an appointment with Continuum Internal Medicine today by calling 817-617-8650.