Memory Loss in Older Adults: Is It Just Forgetfulness or Something More?

As families gathered together for the holidays, many adult children might have noticed subtle (or drastic) changes in their parents. Maybe Mom was repeating herself often or Dad misplaced his glasses. You might not be sure if the changes happening are age-related or if they indicate something more, such as the potential of dementia or a related condition. Before you jump to conclusions or panic, it’s important to recognize that there are different degrees of memory loss in older adults.

Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

Because dementia encompasses a number of conditions, symptoms vary greatly. Alzheimer’s disease refers to a specific disease, whereas dementia describes a collection of symptoms. There are some early signs and symptoms that may point to Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s important to remember that only a doctor can make the call.

5 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

  1. Changes in ability to plan or solve problems, such as trouble following a familiar recipe or balancing a checkbook
  2. Difficulty completing familiar daily tasks such as driving directions or rules to a favorite board game
  3. Vision problems such as difficulty reading, judging distances, or color contrast
  4. Decreased or poor judgment (i.e., paying less attention to personal grooming)
  5. Changes in mood or personality, such as confusion, anxiety, depression, or fear

Common Age-Related Changes Versus Dementia

Here are just a few examples of typical age-related changes versus changes indicating the potential of dementia.

Typical Age-Related Change
Change Indicating Potential of Dementia
Missing an appointment Missing numerous appointments and without remembering to set reminders
Forgetting the name of an acquaintance Forgetting the name of a close family member
Forgetting the day of the week but remembering when told Forgetting the day of the week repeatedly
Forgetting words in a conversation Stopping in the middle of a conversation or calling things by the wrong name
Misplacing glasses, keys, or the TV remote Misplacing items and unable to retrace steps to find them or accusing others of stealing them

Memory Care Communities

If you have reached a point where you can no longer safely care for your loved one at home, you may be experiencing feelings of guilt and sadness. Take comfort in knowing there are communities with loving staff that are specially trained to care for people with similar needs to your loved one. When visiting communities, take note of the residents and their surroundings.

  • Are they well groomed?
  • Are the surroundings clean and well maintained?
  • Do residents have personal belongings in their rooms or is the environment sterile and uninviting?
  • Are residents engaged with staff and other residents in activities, or are they sitting alone?

Research several different communities and ask if they offer programs within memory support neighborhoods that promote mindfulness and significantly improve the quality of life for their residents.

Ridgewood Terrace Memory Support at Friendship Village Columbus

Ridgewood Terrace Memory Support at Friendship Village Columbus supports independence and offers appealing accommodations, programs, and community life for residents in need of memory care. FVC staff seek to know each person, offering care that enhances their quality of life, purpose, and a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for all. Ridgewood Terrace Memory Support provides the right balance of dignity, safety, and peace of mind.

Friendship Village offers a secure place for residents experiencing memory loss. A home-like setting is staffed by healthcare professionals who understand the unique needs of memory care residents and that no two days are alike. The neighborhood includes 14 spacious suites designed with privacy and well-being in mind. Comfortable gathering areas promote interaction and thoughtful daily activities stimulate mindfulness.

There are varying levels of memory support needed by older adults. If you’re unsure about the level of care your loved one needs, take our five-minute online assessment. Remember that only a doctor can diagnose Alzheimer’s or a dementia-related condition.

What’s Next?

There are many types of dementia, each with unique symptoms and onset. Learn more in our free eBook, which includes information about:

  • The different types of dementia
  • More signs and symptoms of dementia
  • More common age-related changes versus possibility of dementia
  • Home screenings
  • Scheduling a visit with a medical practitioner
  • Caregiver resources
  • And more!

Download the eBook today!