Subtle signs it’s worse than memory loss
When is it time for you or your loved one to see a doctor for a possible dementia diagnosis?
Juice Staff Published: 7/18/2018
Dementia can turn your world upside down. The disease may start with subtle signs of memory loss and progress to not recognizing family and friends.
While we all have memory loss on occasion, that doesn’t mean we are bound to have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease any time soon, or at all, for that matter. So, what's the difference between normal memory loss and dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of progressive neurological diseases that cause deterioration of cognitive ability. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 200 types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s accounting for up to 80 percent of all cases.
“Memory loss by itself does not mean that a person has dementia,” said Lynda Gridley, a speech-language pathologist at the Baptist AgeWell Center for Senior Health. “The brain sorts out the most significant memories, so it’s typical for the average person to forget a short-term memory, like what they ate for breakfast last Tuesday, but be able to remember graduating from college.
For dementia patients, immediate and short-term memories are hard to retain, while long-term memories tend to remain. For instance, they may remember their wedding day, but forget what they ate hours before.
Here are some common signs of dementia:
- Impaired immediate/short-term memory. People with dementia might have trouble learning new things, especially when placed in a new environment and out of their comfort zone. Simple tasks, like cooking or cleaning, may seem overwhelming.
- Difficulties with time. They may begin to miss appointments or take their morning medication twice in one day because they can’t keep track of time.
- Word finding. The words they are looking for get lost in translation. They might be able to describe it, but cannot find the right words or forget what they are trying to say mid-sentence.
- Decreased recognition of the difficulties they are having. They may have a lack of insight or deny recent difficulties.
- Getting lost in familiar places. They may get lost in their local park or grocery store they’ve been going to for many years.
If you notice these signs in your loved one, Gridley suggests seeing a neurologist or a geriatrician and to follow these tips for maintaining the peace.
“Watching someone you care about experience a progressive decline in mental ability can be tough on everyone involved,” said Gridley. “The sooner a person is diagnosed, the better, because treatment and therapy are most effective when started early in the disease process.”
To learn more about assessing your memory health and determining your risk factors for dementia, call Baptist AgeWell at 904.202.4AGE (4243).