Seniors often worry when they forget things. They may not remember where they placed something, forget about a scheduled doctor’s appointment, or struggle to learn something new. They wonder if this is a sign of dementia or simply a result of aging.

There are many causes of memory loss and forgetfulness, so one should not automatically assume the worst. This loss may be the result of medication the senior is taking or a sign of a vitamin deficiency, both of which are easily treatable.

The first step is to make an appointment to see a doctor. The doctor can help determine the underlying cause of cognitive decline and whether treatment is available. If memory loss and forgetfulness are signs of dementia, the doctor can help the family find appropriate memory care for seniors.

Understanding Dementia

To be diagnosed with dementia, a person must have a significant issue with their memory and one other cognitive ability. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and strokes are three common causes of dementia today. However, this condition is not inevitable. Its prevalence increases with age, and anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of individuals over the age of 85 have this condition.

When Should a Doctor Be Seen?

People of all ages forget things. A teen driver may not remember where they set their car keys, while a child may not recall where they last saw their library book. As a person ages, they tend to forget more things. However, when this forgetfulness prevents them from engaging in normal daily activities, it is time to see a doctor.

For example, if a person is frequently confused about things, medical attention is needed. Poor hygiene is another sign that a senior needs to visit the doctor, and this symptom may suggest it is time to look into senior living options. The senior may not recall that they didn’t eat or shower, or they may need help with these tasks but don’t want to ask for it. Moving to a senior living community that offers help with daily living tasks ensures the person always has assistance.

How Does Dementia Differ From Mild Cognitive Impairment?

The doctor might find that the senior suffers from mild cognitive impairment rather than dementia. The senior is still able to care for themselves, but they do forget things. Signs of mild cognitive impairment include regularly losing items, missing planned appointments and events, or struggling to find words that others their age have no difficulty with.

Mild cognitive impairment doesn’t mean a person will eventually suffer from dementia. However, doctors like to monitor individuals with this condition to track the progression of the impairment. The senior needs to keep these appointments, as the doctor can help them come up with coping mechanisms to overcome the challenges they face.

Why a Diagnosis is Important

Many people don’t realize that several other conditions have symptoms similar to dementia. For example, a person with a vitamin B-12 deficiency may also struggle with memory loss and forgetfulness. If the condition can be reversed, the doctor will develop a treatment plan. Additionally, the medical team can educate seniors and their loved ones about the disease.

If the disease may progress over time, learning the diagnosis allows the senior to discuss future care preferences with loved ones. It is also a good time to begin researching support for seniors and alternative living arrangements. Knowing the diagnosis also enables the individual to address any legal and financial matters while they still can.

While a person cannot prevent dementia, there are steps they can take to reduce the risk of developing this common condition. Seniors should work to minimize stress in their lives, as stress is detrimental to cognitive abilities. They should also be socially active, as it has been shown to benefit cognitive health.

Furthermore, seniors should be encouraged to engage in intellectually stimulating activities. These activities help to strengthen and improve brain function by strengthening connections between brain cells. Speaking to the doctor today can provide more information on other steps that reduce the risk of dementia. Every day brings new advances in medicine, and a way to prevent dementia may be just around the corner. Until that day arrives, working with a medical team is an excellent way to minimize the impact of dementia.

About The Gardens of Modesto

Families looking for an elegantly furnished senior memory care community for their loved ones will find everything they desire at The Gardens of Modesto. We employ team members who are friendly, compassionate, and ready to care for the seniors in your life. Residents enjoy social activities, dining with fellow residents, and more to ensure they have the highest quality of life while staying with us.