Often human memory declines as we grow older. We may miss a payment or misplace our keys. When people notice a cognitive decline in older adults, their thoughts often jump to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These are legitimate concerns, so it’s important to know the difference between dementia and forgetfulness.
Mild forgetfulness can strike at any age, such as forgetting what day it is and remembering later. However, memory loss associated with dementia is a different story. For example, people with Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty remembering recent events and conversations and eventually lose the ability to perform everyday tasks.
How much forgetfulness is expected with aging?
Mild absentmindedness is part of normal age-related forgetfulness. Everyone forgets things once in a while, like not remembering where you put your keys. Likewise, memories decay over time, so as you age, it’s harder to recall things from the past.
Some forgetfulness is a normal part of life. Memory is the brain’s way of encoding information in the neurons for later retrieval. But how well the mind holds that information depends on a lot of different factors. For example, memory improves with repetition but declines in stressful situations. In addition, the neurological connections of memory can fade with time. You probably remember what you had for dinner last night but have trouble recalling what you ate last week. In the same way, people don’t remember everything from the past because the brain has to clear-up space for new things.
Memory Loss Dementia
Memory loss associated with dementia is more severe than general forgetfulness. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease progresses through stages of increasing severity. In these cases, cognitive decline and behavioral changes eventually limit daily functioning. Some common signs of dementia are:
- Repeating yourself over and over
- Forgetting conversations and dates
- Misplacing items often
- Getting lost while driving
- Forgetting names of familiar people
- Difficulty expressing thoughts
- Becoming confused and disoriented
Tips for Improving Memory
No matter how old you are, your brain can still form new neural pathways. So, there are plenty of ways to boost memory. A healthy and active mind and body go a long way in combating age-related dementia and forgetfulness.
- Stay physically active
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat a healthy diet
- Limit stress
- Socialize with others
- Learn new things
- Stay organized
- Write things down
- Repeat important information
- Practice mindfulness and meditation
- Listen to familiar music
Dementia and Forgetfulness
If you or a loved one is struggling with dementia and forgetfulness, in-home care can be a lifesaver. The caring CHHHAs at Anita’s Angels, Inc. support Senior Citizens who are aging in place. We are Families Helping Families. Let’s talk about how our family can help yours — call 908-788-9390.