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Memory, Forgetfulness, and Aging: What's Normal and What's Not? In general as we age, we begin to notice and worry about memory and how aging may or may not change our cognitive abilities. For example, we might forget to pay the bills or find ourselves unintentionally leaving a boiling pot of water on the burner. Such instances can be upsetting but are often considered to be “mild forgetfulness” that is often a normal part of aging. Facility Programming What's the difference between normal, age-related forgetfulness and a serious memory problem? When memory related issues prevent the individual from attending to everyday tasks that are required to maintain a self-sufficient independent lifestyle, it may indicate further investigation. Signs may include: Repeating the same questions over and over again Confusion in familiar places Inability to proceed independently from task to task in sequential order Disorientation concerning time, people, and places Mild Cognitive Impairment Some older conditions known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI), relate to memory deficits that are not in keeping with common aging related problems. However, individuals with MCI can usually take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI may be an early alert warning that points to Alzheimer’s disease, but not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimer's. Signs of MCI include: Misplacing or losing things more frequently Not recalling important events or appointments Presenting with “aphasia” (difficulty with word finding) more than other individuals of the same age Diagnosed instances of MCI, are tracked every six to 12 months to document changes in memory and other thinking skills over time. Dementia and Aging I often am asked about Dementia. There is a great deal of confusion on the topic. To be clear, Dementia is not a normal part of aging. Dementia is not in of itself a disease. Instead, it's a group of symptoms caused by other conditions. Dementia is a group of conditions characterized by impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and judgment. Many things can cause dementia. It happens when the parts of the brain used for learning, memory, decision making, and language are damaged or diseased. Symptoms include forgetfulness, limited social skills, and thinking abilities so impaired that it interferes with daily functioning. Medications and therapies may help manage symptoms. Some causes of dementia are reversible. While there are different forms of Dementia, Alzheimer's disease is the most common disease associate with Dementia for those over the age 65. There are a number of other diseases and circumstances presenting with dementia affecting both young and old. The most common causes of Dementia include: Degenerative neurological diseases. These include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and some types of multiple sclerosis. These diseases are progressive, get worse over time. Vascular disorders. These conditions affect the blood circulation in the brain. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused by car accidents, falls, concussions, etc. More recently presenting in football athletes (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – CTE). Infections of the central nervous system. These include meningitis, HIV, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Long-time alcohol or drug use Certain types of hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain. NOTE: Hydrocephalus is a condition in which an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) occurs within the brain. This typically causes increased pressure inside the skull. Older people may have headaches, double vision, poor balance, urinary incontinence, personality changes, or mental impairment. Source: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/memory-forgetfulness-and-aging-whats-normal-and-whats-not https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/types-dementia#1 This chart explains some differences between normal signs of aging and Alzheimer's. Have a topic request or question for Celeste? Send them over to email@example.com Activity Directors Network was founded in 1996 on the idea that we could help create elderly care that dramatically improved the lives of those we all serve. We envision facilities that feel like homes and that celebrate our resident’s individuality and allows them to live with dignity, purpose and joy. We believe the exchange of education and wisdom between the most talented teachers and passionate students is the way to make an impact. Each and every single one of you are the revolution that is changing everything. Thanks for being a part of The Network. Copyright © 2021 Activity Directors Network, LLC All rights reserved. Our mailing address is: 2010 US HWY 190 W Ste 120 Livingston, Texas 77351