We all start to get a bit more forgetful as we get older. Even in our younger adult years, we’re all prone to walking into a room and completely forgetting why we went in there. This is common and may get worse as we age, but it’s normally nothing to worry about. So, when we start to reach our more senior years, how can we tell the difference between normal memory loss and more serious problems like dementia?
If you’re caring for an elderly relative or loved one, this blog will help you with assessing their memory when you suspect a problem.
Knowing the difference
To help you identify whether your elderly relative’s memory problems are a concern or not, you should be aware of the difference between normal and abnormal memory changes. Things like calling someone the wrong name, forgetting where they put their keys, or forgetting about an appointment should not be too much cause for concern.
Loss of memory becomes a problem when it starts to impact their life and their ability to function. It may, for example, stop them from working, pursuing their hobbies, socializing, or performing day-to-day chores and errands. Memory conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia also tend to affect several areas of thinking, such as judgment, concentration, and problem-solving abilities. If you notice cognitive decline in areas other than memory, then this could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Monitor their memory
Whenever you’re with that family member, make a point to pay attention to their memory and other cognitive functions. Are they forgetting significant details? Struggling to perform tasks they normally do every day? Saying the wrong words for what they mean? Getting confused a lot? These can all be signs of problems like dementia.
If their memory loss symptoms are less significant, then it is still good to keep an eye on them each time you visit to see if you notice any decline in memory function. You can ask other family members or friends to pay attention to this as well for a second opinion.
When you do notice significant memory issues or a sudden decline, it is better to take your relative to the doctor as soon as you can. They can evaluate the symptoms and determine whether the cause of memory loss is reversible or treatable. They may also be able to assess whether more intensive care is necessary, such as independent or assisted living.