NJ Senior Care Blog

3 Key Differences Between Dementia and Age-Related Forgetfulness


If your loved one is aging, you may be concerned with changes in his or her cognitive function. Memory loss is especially concerning since it is associated with progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. 

If you’ve noticed increased memory loss in a senior loved one, it’s important to determine if their memory loss is a normal part of aging—or a sign of something more concerning. 

3 of the biggest differences between dementia-related memory loss and normal side effects of aging.


1. Dementia Can Alter a Person’s Daily Life


Dementia encompasses a variety of diseases that damage the brain and impair at least two major cognitive functions such as memory and judgment.

A person with dementia often experiences memory loss that impacts their ability to function in their day-to-day lives. For instance, dementia may affect a senior’s ability to remember the functions of common household objects, like the telephone or the mailbox. Additionally, people with dementia often exhibit significant decreases in short-term memory and may become confused when trying to complete common household chores, like cleaning, shopping, or paying bills. 

Normal age-related memory loss doesn’t affect a senior’s ability to function in daily life. Seniors with age-related memory loss may take longer to remember a name or where they placed an object, but their memory loss does not impact their ability to live safely and independently. 


2. Dementia Can Alter a Person’s Behavior and Mood


Another important difference between normal, age-related memory loss and dementia is the impact dementia can have on a person’s behavior and mood

Dementia often damages the parts of the brain that control reasoning, judgment, social behavior, and emotional control. As a result, a person with dementia may experience erratic mood swings or behave inappropriately in certain situations. Dementia can also cause depressive symptoms, such as losing interest in a previously loved hobby or becoming overly passive and quiet. 

Dementia may make it difficult for a person to recognize and trust well-known family members or friends. The condition may also cause a person to behave in strange ways, like neglecting personal hygiene or wearing clothes which are not appropriate for the season or weather.

People with dementia may behave very differently from their “old selves,” while seniors with normal forgetfulness maintain their usual personalities and behaviors. 


3. Dementia Gets Worse Over Time


Dementia is a chronic, progressive disease. As a result, a senior who has dementia will exhibit worsening symptoms as time passes. Dementia has no cure, and there are no treatments that can stop or slow its progression. 

Age-related forgetfulness, on the other hand, often has treatable underlying causes, such as a head injury, taking a new medication, not getting enough sleep, or needing certain nutrients in one’s diet. 

Many seniors can improve their memory by playing challenging games or solving puzzles. Others see improvement in memory from adjusting diet and exercise routines. 

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care by Visiting Angels

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia is a challenging, scary time for seniors and their families. Over time, a person with dementia will need around-the-clock care and supervision. For families facing such a diagnosis in a loved one, personal care aides trained in dementia behavior can help ease the burden and provide peace of mind. 

Visiting Angels of Mercer and Burlington Counties is ready to provide caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias. Contact us today to learn more. 

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.