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How To Differentiate Normal Forgetfulness From Dementia

Memory Loss & Aging

With the aging process, it’s normal to experience slight changes in intellect over time. Older adults may notice they are taking longer to get words out at times, along with a reduced ability to multi-task. It’s also common to experience a delay in recalling names, dates or events that happened in the past. This is most likely due to normal aging. By contrast, certain memory issues can indicate the beginning of some cognitive deficits. Causes for concern include not knowing the name of objects, forgetting names and places without recall, inability to use the right words or getting lost in familiar surroundings.

Are Changes In My Loved One Due To Symptoms Of Dementia?

Often times, it is very hard for people experiencing memory issues to recognize their problems while those around them are extremely concerned. On the other hand, an older adult experiencing normal forgetfulness or “senior moments” generally recognizes their own lack of recall. Keep in mind that memory issues develop gradually, worsening over time, so if a sudden change in memory loss occurs, it could be linked to another medical condition which may need immediate medical attention.

Generally, experts recommend when memory loss prevents someone from performing daily tasks and accustomed roles in life, they should consult a physician for further evaluation. Since dementia is a clinical diagnosis, a clinician needs to merge all of the information from the patient examination, family history, lab results and brain scans in order to make a diagnosis.


Here are additional indicators for dementia:

  • An overall disheveled appearance
  • Disregard for personal cleanliness
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty with food preparation
  • Changes in appetite and food preferences
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Loss of reasoning and judgment skills
  • Problems with managing finances
  • Stacks of mail and unpaid bills
  • Plants that are dying
  • Pets being neglected or overfed/underfed
  • Lack of interest in friends or activities
  • Forgetfulness or loss of short-term memory
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Depression
  • Unable to safely manage medications
  • Wandering


If your loved one is showing several of the above signs, it’s time to seek help from medical professionals. If additional assistance is needed for memory loss issues, you can begin researching various options to find the best fit for your family. At Longleaf Liberty Park, we’ll work with your family to determine if dementia care is the best option for the health, safety and future well-being of your loved one.

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