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How To Tell The Difference Between Normal Forgetfulness and Dementia

Know The Signs Of Memory Loss

With the aging process, individuals typically begin to experience slight changes in their cognitive abilities over time, including increased forgetfulness or memory loss. For example, you may notice a modest decline in spontaneous word finding (taking longer to get words out), along with a reduced ability to multi-task. The speed with which information is processed gradually slows down with age, so a delay in recalling names, dates or past events is most likely due to normal aging.

Rather than this expected delay, individuals showing early signs of cognitive deficits may be unable to recall more recent details of an event or even their immediate surroundings. Some common causes for concern could include frequently misplacing objects, the inability to recall the names of objects, forgetting familiar names and places, having difficulty selecting the correct word choice or even becoming lost or confused in known surroundings.

Often times, it is very hard for people experiencing memory issues to recognize their problems while those around them are understandably concerned. By contrast, an older adult experiencing normal forgetfulness or “senior moments” tends to recognize 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 attention.


Are Changes In Your Loved One Due To Signs Of Dementia

In general, when memory loss prevents someone from performing daily tasks and accustomed roles in life, experts recommend a consultation with a physician for further evaluation. Because dementia is a clinical diagnosis, a clinician needs to merge all the information from the patient’s examination, family history, lab results and brain scans in order to diagnose your loved one.

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
  • Pets being neglected or overfed/underfed
  • Lack of interest in friends or activities
  • Forgetfulness or loss of short-term memory
  • Differences in sleep habits
  • Depression
  • Inability to safely manage medications
  • Wandering


You should consider seeking guidance from a healthcare professional specializing in dementia if your loved one is showing several of the above signs. If additional assistance is needed in order to address your loved one’s memory loss, Highpoint can help. Find greater peace of mind for your family with our high-quality dementia care, dedicated caregivers and secure environment – and discover a new sense of purpose and belonging for your loved one.