Most people experience increasing bouts of forgetfulness as they get older. Sometimes, they wonder if they are experiencing the beginning stages of dementia. Understandably this can be a distressing thought to entertain.
The good news is, there are some basic guidelines which can help you to determine if you or a loved one are exhibiting signs of normal aging, or you are seeing early Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
Distinguishing Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms from Forgetfulness
Recalling an Experience: We all have cherished memories, significant events, and favorite pastimes. When an individual is experiencing normal signs of aging, they may forget some details. However, dementia or Alzheimer’s patients are likely to forget that the event even happened, no matter how important. For instance, while an aging relative may forget what type of food they served at their family holiday party a few years back, or if their favorite aunt attended; a dementia patient may not remember that they had a party at all. Further, although eventually the details may occur to someone later, a dementia patient will almost never regain recall.
Following Directions: Someone who is aging and showing signs of forgetfulness should still be able to follow directions when given, whether written or spoken in nature. However, a dementia patient will struggle with following directions, and may not be able to do so at all. So while an aging parent may need to be reminded how to pay their bill on the computer, they can be walked through the process. Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include an inability to understand simple instructions.
Utilizing Notes: Aging individuals can neglect to pick up milk when they go shopping, get confused as to the last time they took their medication, or completely forget what time their grandkids are coming to visit. However, by utilizing to-do lists and filling in daily calendars, they can stay on track with the details of their daily life. An Alzheimer’s patient is increasingly unable to understand the use of a list, and probably won’t even remember to make entries as to what they need – let alone follow a written schedule or to-do list.
Self Care and Independence: In conjunction with memory loss, a dementia patient will gradually lose their ability to take care of themselves and be left alone. A caregiver may notice that their loved one is increasingly in danger of causing harm to their health or well-being. Those who are simply being forgetful can still distinguish between reality and fantasy, understand danger, and act responsibly. Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include forgetting how to take care of oneself. Without dementia, an aging yet forgetful relative may still retain full capability to live alone and be safe.
Help to Boost Your Memory
If you are experiencing signs of forgetfulness and wish to sharpen your memory, here are a few tricks to keep your brain healthy:
- Stay active and get physical exercise every day.
- Remain socially active and engage with others often.
- Continue to work a part-time job or volunteer for a cause you support.
- Be sure to get enough sleep, which not only keeps you mentally sharp, but promotes a strong immune system as well.
- Listen to music, or better yet, take up learning how to play a musical instrument. Music offers a myriad of benefits, from lowered blood pressure to an enhanced sense of well-being.