Dementia or Normal Aging?

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Health Signals |

Worried about an elderly person’s behaviour change? How do you distinguish between
normal memory changes that occur with aging – and the more serious possibility of dementia, such as Alzheimer Disease? 

A few things to watch for: Forgetting things – including peoples’ names and events – is more common as we grow older. But forgetfulness together with confusion could be a warning sign of more serious problems. And forgetting names of family members or familiar places is not an expected change.

Here are some other warning signs:

  • Doing or saying the same things repeatedly
  • Difficulty making simple everyday decisions or completing everyday tasks
  • Appearing restless and agitated
  • Withdrawing and doing nothing for extended periods of time

Also, look for personality or behaviour change, such as someone suddenly becoming stubborn and uncooperative (as opposed to displaying a longtime character trait). Talking to oneself – for company, or as a long-standing habit – may not be a concern, but noticeably nonsensical monologues could be your tip-off that something’s wrong.

If you are worried, seek medical help. Underlying medical conditions can cause these types of changes – and treatment can be effective.

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Vol.2, No.1; © ElderWise 2006

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