Each individual of the aging population has a unique view about how their life will look 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years from now. Those who strive for independent living may want to continue doing so, but aren’t sure if their cognitive ability will remain strong for so many years. The National Institute on Aging suggests that aging doesn’t have to be completely negative on the brain. The inability to remember certain things comes with aging, but can also be an early sign of dementia. Understanding the differences between the two is critical, especially if you’re caring for a loved one.

How Dementia Develops

Dementia develops as a result of damaged brain cells prohibiting those cells from communicating with one another. Many different cognitive functions can be impacted, depending on which brain cells are affected the most. Like aging, dementia occurs over time for the aging population and can significantly impact how a person interacts with others and behaves in general. 

Cognitive Changes Are Normal For The Aging Population

Certain components of the brain can shrink as you get older, as well as decreased blood flow and increased inflammation. All of these can lead to cognitive decline or at least a disruption in cognitive abilities. One of the most difficult things to do is notice these signs when caring for a loved one and determining whether they are simply part of the aging process or early signs of dementia. Many of the signs are the same, but the typical cognitive changes that are seen as normal include occasional loss of short-term memory, difficulty paying attention to others when they speak, difficulty concentrating on specific tasks and other similar signs. How you can tell these signs are just a part of getting older is if a senior just experiences these signs occasionally and appears to be sharp cognitively otherwise.

Common Signs Of Dementia

When a person has dementia, independent living is rarely an option. Most of the time a person with dementia is unable to complete everyday tasks, is forgetful most of the time and rarely finishes anything they begin. The decline in cognitive function tends to be more rapid for a person with dementia and some of the signs to look out for include:

  • Change in personality
  • Repeating the same questions
  • Not recalling events that just happened
  • Inability to use the right words appropriately
  • Constant confusion
  • Being apathetic in many aspects of life

It’s important to look out for any gradual or sudden changes in cognitive ability when caring for a loved one. If you have any suspicions or concerns, visiting a medical professional early may lead to early detection of dementia and help you and your loved one manage it a little easier.

At Next Day Access, we are here to help aging seniors succeed at independent living by providing them the tools and solutions they need to move freely. If there is anything we can do to help your aging loved one, contact us at any time to schedule a free home assessment.