How to Tell the Difference Between Normal Aging and Alzheimer's

It’s a fact of life that our bodies change as we grow older.  Most of us begin to move a bit more slowly than we did when we were younger. Likewise, it might take a bit longer for our brains to process information. However, there is a difference between a minor lapse in memory and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Normal Aging?

As we age, it is normal to experience changes in memory and the way our brain receives information. Sometimes, we forget things. Life can be hectic, after all, so it is easy to forget things like new acquaintances’ names or where we last put the car keys. This type of memory lapse can be annoying or inconvenient, but it is a common occurrence for people stressed out by work and family commitments.

However, when these lapses become more frequent and start to interfere with our daily lives, it could be a sign that there is something more serious happening within our brains.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder in which the brain’s nerve cells become damaged or destroyed over time. It is a form of dementia, which is a term used for the group of symptoms that are the result of various brain disorders.

These disorders can affect any or all of the following:

  • Memory – both short-term and long-term
  • Language capabilities – including reading, writing, and speaking
  • Visuospatial function – the capacity to comprehend things like maps, directions or symbols
  • Executive function – which is the ability to complete tasks and problem solve

The Mayo Clinic reports that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of individuals who are exhibiting symptoms of a brain disorder. While Alzheimer’s disease predominantly affects people age 65 and over, cases have been noted among some individuals as early as in their 30s.

The Onset of Alzheimer’s

When memory lapses become consistent or are enough to disrupt work, social lives, or hobbies, it could mean the onset of Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association notes the following as common symptoms of the disease:

  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Misplacing objects on a regular basis
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty with organization
  • Becoming lost or disoriented

It’s important to remember that not everyone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will exhibit all of these symptoms. Alternatively, people who exhibit any of these symptoms might not be experiencing the onset of Alzheimer’s.

This is where a memory screening will be helpful. A memory screening evaluates an individual’s memory to determine whether it is necessary to schedule a follow-up appointment with a physician or other health care professional.

Specialized Care for People Living with Alzheimer’s

When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, he or she will begin to show a decreased ability to socialize and communicate with others. As the brain disorder progresses, a person will begin to lose the ability to complete by themselves even the most basic of tasks.

While it is difficult to see a loved one experience cognitive decline, a senior living community that specializes in memory care will help your friend or family member continue to live with the dignity he or she deserves.

 

Photo Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net