As you continue to age, you tend to become more forgetful, such as you don’t remember where you put your keys. Is this type of forgetfulness normal or abnormal?
Naturally, one of the byproducts of healthy aging is benign forgetfulness. But your may have concerns that it is the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Even healthy elderly may develop and experience changes in mental processing that may be mistaken for early symptoms of dementia. These symptoms are indicative of the decline in mental processing speed. That is to say, it generally takes longer time for the elderly to make connections between their brain cells.
If you occasionally forget an assignment at work, or even fail to remember your colleague’s name, this is normal forgetfulness. But if you frequently show forgetfulness and confusion, then you may indeed have a problem.
If you have difficulty in finding the right word to express yourself, this is normal forgetfulness too. Theoretically, you know more words as you grow older. The dilemma is that you have a good stock of vocabulary, but you may also have difficulty in accessing it because of slower mental processing. This is not dementia. Pride yourself that you may know more words than those who are your junior. Don’t panic! Just expect a little more effort to recall and find the right word. On the other hand, if you frequently have difficulty in finding the right word, resulting in speech that does not make sense, then you may have early symptoms of dementia.
If you have occasional difficulty with familiar tasks, such as operating a dish washer, that may be a temporary mental lapse. Abnormal forgetfulness is completely forgetting that you already made a meal. Such severe forgetfulness may pose a mental health concern.
If you become disoriented, such as forgetting the day of the week or your wife’s birthday, it is just occasional forgetfulness. You wife may be angry with you, but it does not mean you are going to have Alzheimer’s or dementia. But if your disorientation is so serious that you cannot find your way home from work, then you may have a serious problem with forgetfulness, which may be beyond benign.
If you repeatedly show poor or lack of judgment in daily things, such as putting on heavy winter clothing on a sweltering summer day, this may be another symptom of dementia rather than simply forgetfulness.
If you are unable to do simple abstract thinking, such as simple addition or subtraction, you problem may be more than just normal forgetfulness.
The above are just some of the examples of everyday forgetfulness common to the elderly. Of course, there are other more subtle indications, such as changes in personality. An individual suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s often becomes withdrawn from social activities and daily chores. Sudden and wild mood swings (not those suffering from bipolar depression) are some of the subtle characteristics of people with dementia problems.