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Is It Forgetfulness or Dementia? 9 Noteworthy Differences

Is It Forgetfulness or Dementia? 9 Noteworthy Differences

A senior man sitting on the sofa thinking about moving to memory care in Lincoln, Nebraska

It is only natural to worry about our senior loved ones, whether they are our aging parents or a beloved grandparent. This is especially true if you are concerned that they might be exhibiting signs and symptoms of dementia. However, how do you know if it’s just forgetfulness or the early onset of the disease? 

At CountryHouse, as the best memory care in Lincoln, Nebraska, we understand the intricacies and challenges associated with memory care. We’ve seen firsthand how families struggle to differentiate between normal forgetfulness and the more serious signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This confusion is common, and it’s crucial to recognize the key differences.

Understanding Dementia and Forgetfulness

General forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, and can happen to anyone. Misplacing keys, forgetting a name momentarily, or missing a monthly bill are typical examples. However, when these lapses become frequent and interfere with daily life, it might be more than just age-related forgetfulness. This is where dementia comes into play.

The 9 Noteworthy Differences

While temporarily losing your wallet or forgetting where you parked at the supermarket can happen to anyone at any time, there are key dementia red flags. Below, we have taken the time to outline nine that you need to be aware of:

#1.) Memory Loss Affecting Daily Activities

Occasional memory lapses are normal, but dementia is often marked by frequent memory loss, particularly of recent events or conversations. If you notice that your senior loved one is frequently repeating themselves, telling the same story over and over, or asking you the same question multiple times, this could be an indication of dementia. 

#2.) Difficulty in Planning or Solving Problems

While everyone can make occasional errors, those with dementia may show significant difficulties in developing and following plans, working with numbers, or following familiar recipes. This can become extremely obvious in the area of finances. For example, do you notice that your loved one is behind on utility payments? Are their lights or water frequently getting shut off, even though they have the funds to pay the bill?

#3.) Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

Another key indicator of dementia is if they are struggling to complete simple tasks. This might include driving to a known location, organizing a grocery list, or remembering the rules of a favorite game. If these are challenging, it may be time to consider going to see a doctor about dementia testing.  

#4.) Time and Place Confusion

We are all guilty of forgetting what day of the week it is from time to time. However, losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time is common in dementia. Individuals may also forget where they are or how they got there. 

#5.) Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

Dementia isn’t just about forgetting. This disease can also have a significant impact on the body. One example of this is trouble with vision impairment. Vision problems can be a sign of dementia, leading to difficulty reading, judging distance, or determining color contrast.

#6.) New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing

Those with dementia commonly have issues with communication. For example, they might struggle to follow or join a conversation, often stopping in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue. They may even replace words with nonsensical ones, failing to remember what the true name of the item is. 

#7.) Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps

A person living with dementia may place things in unusual places and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again. Some common examples include leaving their keys in the freezer or putting their purse or wallet in the pantry. 

#8.) Decreased or Poor Judgment

Changes in judgment or decision-making can be signs of dementia. Take note if you notice your senior loved one paying less attention to personal grooming or making unusual financial decisions. These red flags aren’t just signs of dementia, but also can put your loved one’s safety and well being in jeopardy. 

#9.) Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities

A person with dementia may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports. If your senior loved one was once socially active and outgoing, and are now no longer acting like themselves, this is something to pay attention to. Dementia can cause feelings of depression, isolation, and anxiety in addition to creating drastic changes in mood, personality, and temperament. 

A senior woman holding hands with a family member

When to Seek Help

If you or your senior loved one is experiencing these symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an evaluation with a doctor or primary care physician. Early diagnosis can lead to better management of the condition. If they are anxious about going because they are worried about the diagnosis, offer to go with them or arrange another family to go in your stead. Having the support of a loved one can help ease anxiety and serve as a coping tool. 

CountryHouse: Your Partner in Memory Care

At CountryHouse, we are deeply committed to offering joyful living for those with dementia. Our memory care in Lincoln, Nebraska, situated at the historic site of 70th and O Street, is more than just a memory care community—it’s a piece of history blended with modern care. Constructed on the grounds of the Leavitt House, once the residence of acting chief surgeons of the historic Veteran’s Hospital, our unique memory care residence stands in harmony with the adjacent Veterans Administration buildings and their rich legacy.

Our team members, the heart of CountryHouse, are dedicated to treating each resident like family. We offer a variety of activities through our Seasons curriculum, from exercise and social hours to special events inspired by local attractions. Onsite activities range from games and music to cooking and crafts, while offsite adventures include boating, concerts, and visits to historical sites.

Contact Our Memory Care in Lincoln, Nebraska

Understanding the difference between forgetfulness and dementia is crucial for the well-being of your senior loved ones. If you’re exploring options for memory care in Lincoln, Nebraska, we invite you to contact CountryHouse. Learn more about our community, take a tour, and discover why we’re an excellent choice for memory care after a diagnosis. Join us at CountryHouse, where life is not just lived but celebrated, even in the journey of memory care.

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