Is it Dementia? Determining Whether Cognitive Impairment is a Normal Part of Aging
As many of you probably realize, some degree of forgetfulness comes with aging. There may be complex psychological and physiological reasons for this, but our simple explanation is that the older you are, the more things you have to remember, which makes forgetfulness more likely. When you combine that with the fact that there are many stressors that often accompany aging such as the onset of physical illnesses, the loss of loved ones and peers, financial stress that can accompany retirement, and the thousands of “normal” daily stressors, it should come as no surprise that many elderly people without any underlying health problems experience occasional episodes of forgetfulness or cognitive impairment.
Do you feel forgetful?
One of the biggest warning signs that forgetfulness is a problem is whether the person experiencing the forgetfulness has noted it becoming an increasing problem. After all, people have different natural levels of memory. There are people who remember the name and face of every person they have ever met, while other people have routinely needed prompting to remember the names of even well-known casual acquaintances. Therefore, it is important to assess forgetfulness against each individual’s own personal baseline. If there has been an increase in episodic forgetfulness, then the forgetfulness may be an issue.
Is the forgetfulness causing hazardous conditions? Many tragic accidents are caused because of forgetfulness- house fires because someone forget that they were cooking or children left in a hot car because a parent forget the child was in the car happen relatively frequently because people of the stress of everyday life. However, the fact that these episodes occur with some frequency does not mean that they are normal or routine. Is forgetfulness causing someone to skip medications, to leave cooking food unattended, or leading to a person getting lost? If forgetfulness is causing a hazardous condition, then it should be immediately evaluated by a medical professional.
Is it depression?
What many people do not realize is that many of the symptoms of dementia are mirrored by depression and other mental illnesses. They could also be the result of medication side effects. Therefore, if there appears to be a decline in cognitive functioning, it is imperative to have a complete medical evaluation to rule out other causes, including mental health issues.
Chelsea Senior Living can help you connect with resources for determining whether forgetfulness is normal or the sign of a more serious, underlying issue.