Normal Forgetfulness vs Dementia
Forgetting things is a normal part of life. That’s why we have sticky notes, alarms, timers, and strings tied around fingers. Memory loss happens more frequently with age, but there’s a difference between the normal forgetfulness that comes with aging, and the progressive memory loss that comes with dementia.
The normal signs of aging include transience and absentmindedness. Transience is the forgetting of old memories over time. Research suggests this can be a good thing, actually, because it can be your brain refreshing over time, shedding old memories to make room for new ones. Absentmindedness is a loss of focus over time, simply forgetting things because you’re not preoccupied with thinking about them.
Memory loss and mental issues from dementia are progressive, meaning they get worse and worse over time. A small issue will eventually turn into a major obstacle to daily life for someone afflicted with dementia, causing them to require either in home health care, or moving to an assisted living facility.
Forgetting important information can be a sign of dementia. While forgetting a phone number or the exact time of an appointment is normal, forgetting things like the names of your loved ones, or common words, is good cause for a doctor’s appointment.
Dementia can cause major changes in personality. Typically, those afflicted become more prone to aggressiveness, paranoia, or impulsiveness. Also possible is disorientation, mostly in new environments. Unfamiliar locations may cause insecurity, causing afflicted older adults to appear lost, confused, or aggravated.
Because some amount of forgetfulness is normal and to be expected, but the symptoms of dementia worsen over time, any uncertainty is good cause to schedule an appointment with your doctor.