Oh! Your keys are hard to find. Once more, you forgot the name of your new neighbor. And in all actuality, where exactly did you park your car at the mall?
It is normal to forget things on occasion. But as you get older, these "senior moments" might make you wonder if you're going to get dementia. Dementia is the loss of memory and thinking skills so bad that it makes it hard to live on your own. It's usually caused by Alzheimer's disease or other brain changes.
We all have moments when a name or the title of a movie is just on the tip of the tongue, but those events are different from the kinds of lapses that may be warning signs for dementia. Stress, an extra-busy day, poor sleep, and even some medications can interfere with making and recalling memories.
Memory lapses are usually nothing to worry about. But if you're worried about yourself or someone you care about, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. How can you make out the difference between minor forgetfulness and dementia? Changes that occur in our capacity to think and function are the most important factor to look for. Here are five hints:
Everybody loses things. Yes, if we move too quickly on a busy morning, we might even put the box of cornflakes in the refrigerator. It's normal to put things in the wrong place, and it's normal to realize we made a mistake and retrace our steps to locate the keys atop today's mail pile.
What isn't: Finding your belongings in increasingly unusual places and being unable to locate them, as well as beginning to suspect—without evidence—that they have been stolen.
It's normal to get lost when traveling by car, foot, or public transportation to a new location. Getting lost in your journey or thoughts to the point where you need to reorient yourself to see exactly where you are is another possibility.
What isn't: It could be a sign of dementia if you drive or walk for a long time without realizing you're lost or if you completely forget where you are and don't ask for help. You might also lose the ability to read a map or follow landmarks and traffic signs, become easily disoriented in familiar places, or forget how you got to a new location.
We all forget the day of the week every once in a while, but we usually remember or figure it out quickly.
More concerning: without realizing that you've forgotten things like the time of day, the day, or how long it has been since you last checked. In addition, despite putting appointments on the calendar and receiving numerous reminders from family, I am incapable of remembering them or even missing them altogether. These might indicate dementia.
Everybody has to occasionally look for the right word. Additionally, it is normal for this to occur more frequently with age.
What isn't: having a hard time remembering words, calling things and people the wrong names, and withdrawing from social situations as a result. Having difficulty joining, following, or continuing a conversation (you might stop talking in the middle of a thought and not know what you were going to say next) or even following the plot on television may also indicate a dementia risk.
It's normal to forget your neighbor's dog's name.
What isn't: Being unable to perform daily tasks as you used to, and now requiring assistance from family or professionals. If your bank accounts used to be exactly balanced, but now you don't know where your household money is going, bills haven't been paid, and electricity or phone service has been cut off. Also, if you feel lost and overwhelmed while making Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, or worse, if you can't use your favorite, tried-and-true recipe, it could be a sign of early brain changes. One of the biggest concerns, from a doctor's perspective, is the issue of medication management, including taking medications incorrectly or forgetting to take them. It's time to talk to your doctor if you or someone you care about is having trouble properly managing their medication.
It’s important to find out whether your loved ones are in proper mental health status. Connect with Sarathi healthcare and our team of senior wellness consultants will make sure to take care of overall wellness including physical and mental aspects.