We all have those moments where we begin questioning our memory. It usually starts with simple things like asking yourself where you put your keys. You may forget the name of a friend – it’s on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t quite remember the name.
But how do you know when it becomes something more? When should you start to worry?
Dementia is not normal aging. Instead, dementia is characterized by multiple cognitive failures, including memory impairments. They include:
- Functioning problems
- Language problems
- Short term or working memory
- Spatial memory
- Verbal memory
In general, there are usually multiple impairments, both socially and independently, that cause a diagnosis of dementia to occur. Symptoms vary from person to person, but in general will include:
- Getting lost in familiar places
- Repetitive questioning
- Odd or inappropriate behavior
- Forgetting recent events
- Loss of balance or repeated falls
- Personality changes
- Decline in organization
- Change in diet and eating habits
- Change in hygiene
- Change in language abilities, including comprehension and forgetfulness
While everyone may be able to place themselves into some of these situations from time to time, the is longevity and the overall impact.
Normal aging might cause you to not remember the details of a conversation that took place last year. Dementia will make it difficult to recall details from conversations that took place within the last few days or even hours.
Normal aging might leave you at a loss of a name of an acquaintance you met in the past. Dementia will leave you struggling to recognize or know the names of family members and the people closest to you.
Normal aging might cause you to have difficulty in finding the right words. Dementia causes you to leave frequent pauses in the conversation and substitute words instead of using the correct verbiage.
Normal aging usually leaves you worried about your memory, even if your family shows little concern. Dementia often finds your family worried about your memory, even if you aren’t aware of any problems.
If you have questions about your memory or the memory of a loved one, the best place to start is by talking with your doctor. It is important to monitor the extent and severity of the symptoms over time; your doctor can provide you with the resources you need to stay active over time.