“I fear I am not in my perfect mind,” said Shakespeare’s King Lear.
No one has a perfect mind. And as we age we become less perfect; our bodies and our brains change. We are less physically and mentally limber…it takes us a little longer to accomplish the things we want. We may become more forgetful – forgetting where we put our keys, getting to the grocery store and realizing we forget our list, forgetting where we placed our glasses or not being able to recall someone’s name. Some refer to these incidents as ‘senior moments’ and they can be considered ‘normal’. But when do these ‘senior moments’ indicate that something more serious is happening?
The Alzheimer's Association cites the differences between dementia and age-related memory changes this way:
As the chart shows, many uncomfortable moments can be considered routine aging and are expected. But sometimes these moments are a sign of a more significant change, particularly if your day to day activities are being affected. It may be a sign of dementia.
Dementia is not a disease. It is a catch-all term that is used to describe the symptoms of a group of conditions that impair thinking, behavior, and memory with enough impact to interfere with a person’s everyday activities. Some of the more common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, and Dementia with Lewy bodies.
Any suspicion you have that your forgetfulness is more than a memory hiccup should be checked out by your physician. It could have nothing to do with dementia. It may be that your occasional forgetfulness is part of the normal aging process or caused by a treatable medical condition such as dehydration, a medication side effect, a vitamin deficiency or a thyroid, kidney, or liver disease.
But if your forgetfulness turns out to be an early indicator of dementia, this early detection will allow you to start a treatment and management plan that will be beneficial to both you and your family.
Dementia it is not a modern day malady. It has always been a part of the human condition and continues to be a devastating disease that affects not only the patient but also families and caregivers. Getting a diagnosis and creating a long term care plan is essential for you and your loved ones.
If you need assistance with a diagnosis or are diagnosed with dementia, there are two excellent resources in our area to help: