Under the Hood

Memory Loss Or Plain Forgetfulness: When To Seek Professional Help

There’s a fine line between simple forgetfulness and dementia (such as Alzheimer’s disease) in the elderly, and only a doctor can tell the difference with reasonable certainty.

There can be no self-diagnosing dementia. Only a trained doctor or a specialist such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist or geriatrician can make this judgment call.

So, if a senior citizen’s in doubt if his recurring episodes of forgetfulness are just symptoms of old age or might indicate the onset of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, his safest bet is to consult with a physician.

It’s best to remember forgetfulness and memory problems don’t automatically indicate dementia.

Both forgetfulness and memory problems are normal parts of aging. They can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue or disease. But don’t ignore the symptoms altogether.

Dementia symptoms include impairments in thought, communication and memory. For forgetfulness to be diagnosed dementia, a person needs to have at least two of these impairments.

It’s wise to remember that dementia is a broad term describing a set of symptoms. These symptoms include impairment in memory, reasoning, judgment, language and other thinking skills.

Dementia usually begins gradually. It worsens over time and in so doing impairs on a person's abilities in work, interact with other persons and have meaningful relationships.

Normal age-related memory loss affects everyone. These changes in memory are mostly manageable and don't mess with your ability to work, live independently or maintain a social life.

Memory loss disrupting your life is one of the first, or more-recognizable, signs of dementia. Other early signs might include:

* Forgetting common words when speaking

* Asking the same questions over and over again

* Changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason like crying suddenly or becoming argumentative

* Mixing-up words, such as saying door for floor

* Repeatedly misplacing items

* Getting lost while walking or driving in a familiar area

dementia Dementia affects around 47 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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