Alzheimer's or Aging? Why Knowing the Difference Is Crucial
As your loved one begins to go gray, their hair color isn’t the only thing that changes. Small mental, physical, and cognitive changes slowly take place as they age. If a family member or friend is getting older, you may notice they occasionally forget things or have some additional difficulty doing things that used to come easily, such as cooking, driving, or telling a story.
Much of this normal for people who are aging. However, signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia may be mixed in with normal signs of aging. As a friend, family member, or caregiver, it is critical to your loved one’s health that you know how to spot these symptoms and distinguish them from mere age-related changes.
Important Distinctions Between Alzheimer’s and Aging
Even if you are not necessarily concerned about your loved one’s mental status, you ought to perk up when they develop new problems. If you notice they are experiencing difficulties they did not have before or suddenly become frustrated or confused when performing daily activities, there may be cause for concern. However, Alzheimer’s and dementia are sneaky and can be hard to spot in the early stages, and making the distinction between aging and a deeper problem is crucial to your loved one’s health.
As you spend time with your loved one and observe their behavioral development, here are a few things to look for:
- FORGETFULNESS: If your loved one momentarily forgets the name of an acquaintance or the day or time an event took place, don’t rush to assume they have a degenerative disease. Truth be told, forgetting minor details or relatively new information from time to time is just part of getting old. However, if the information in question does not ultimately come back to them and you notice that your loved one does not recall memorable details of interactions, events, etc., this could signal that there is something wrong.
- SEARCHING FOR WORDS: Some difficulty coming up with the right word, name, or way of saying something is typically just a sign of aging. However, your loved one may be exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia if you notice that they pause often, regularly use words improperly, make up funny words, or substitute words they’ve forgotten with explanatory phrases (i.e. “flat work table” instead of “desk”).
- DISORIENTATION: Temporarily forgetting the day of the week or the time is typically not a sign of a deeper issue, but if your senior becomes frequently disoriented and cannot recall the date, day of the week, or time, and regularly loses track of time, this could be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- CHANGES IN PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL HABITS: Your loved one may become depressed or anxious if they are isolated or have persistent feelings of loneliness, which often occurs among aging people who do not have a lot of familial support. However, if they become withdrawn, avoid social situations, develop uncharacteristic anxiety, depressive symptoms, or suspiciousness of others, this could be a sign of something worse than aging.
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There are a variety of other important signs to watch for, and it can be challenging to catch them all on your own. Our team of attentive caregivers is here to help you keep an eye out for potential signs or Alzheimer’s and dementia and help you manage your aging loved one’s health in the comfort of home.