Changes in cognition and memory loss are common as we age, but sometimes these symptoms indicate a more pressing medical diagnosis. It is important to recognize the signs of dementia in your loved ones so you can get them the proper care.
Simple Forgetfulness vs Mild Cognitive Impairment
Most people experience simple cognitive changes as their brains age, such as being unable to find one’s keys or being less likely to recall specific dates that have been hardwired in the past. Though these episodes can be concerning, they are a normal (if unpleasant) part of the aging process and are not generally a cause for alarm. There are many strategies to keep the brain healthy and minimize the impact that the episodes have on daily life activities.
Some adults will notice memory and thinking problems that are beyond the baseline of forgetfulness but do not significantly impact their ability to manage their daily lives and normal activities. Though Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). does often serve as a precursor to non-Alzheimer’s dementia, it does not always lead to this diagnosis. If you notice these issues with frequency in yourself or a loved one, talking to a health care provider can help, as appropriate testing and early action will help minimize the progression of MCI, along with its impact on living independently.
Dementia is NOT a normal part of aging. It includes cognitive impairment that affects thinking, learning, remembering and decision-making in a manner that causes a markedly negative impact on the activities of daily life. Dementia alters the quality of life and often poses a threat to safety for the sufferer. A thorough workup with a dementia care provider can determine if the symptoms are being caused by an outside factor–like a medication interaction, anxiety, or another controllable issue–or if further testing is required.
Maintaining Independence While Dealing with Age-Related Memory Issues
Nothing can stop the aging process, but there are things you can do to reduce the impact of age-related memory loss. Put your wallet, keys, and glasses in the same place every day to minimize the chance of misplacing these vital items. Spending time interacting with friends and family is equally important to maintaining brain health and cognitive function as aging progresses, so do not isolate yourself or neglect your social calendar. Finally, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, non-processed foods, and maintaining a healthy weight contribute to cognitive health just as much as the health of the physical body. The importance of striving for personal wellness cannot be overstated.
When More Care is Needed
The onset of dementia often heralds the inevitability that your loved one will no longer be able to maintain any quality of life–or a safe existence–while living independently. Residents of southern West Virginia and beyond have learned that aging with dignity while receiving dementia care is possible at Princeton Health Care Center. If your loved one is struggling with the activities of daily life, we’re here to help.
Reach out today for a consultation to learn how to move forward most lovingly and respectfully.