When is memory loss a concern?

Memory loss can be a normal part of getting older and is quite different from the loss of memory associated with dementia, so it’s important to have an understanding of how to differentiate between the two. 

It’s quite normal to walk into the kitchen and forget what you intended to do there, or misplace the car keys. However, a person with dementia may first lose the keys and second, forget what they are used for.

Dementia is noted as being a persistent and progressive decline to the behavioural and psychological state of a person. It is quite different to occasional forgetfulness. It may affect a person’s ability to continue to work and carry out everyday tasks. It may mean having difficulty finding your home. Eventually, it may mean forgetting how to dress and bathe.

So how to recognise the difference between forgetfulness and the possible onset of dementia? Here are some distinguishing points.

Written and verbal directions

Forgetful people will be able to follow directions relatively easily.

People with dementia may find it increasingly harder to follow directions.

Stories on TV, movies or books

Forgetful people will be able to follow the storyline.

People with dementia will progressively lose the ability to understand the material or the storyline as it advances.

Stored knowledge

Forgetful people may recall information more slowly; however, information is mostly retained and can eventually be retrieved.

People with dementia may irretrievably lose commonly known and applied knowledge.

Everyday skills

Forgetful people will retain their ability to complete everyday tasks, such as dressing.

Over time, people with dementia will progressively lose their capacity to perform everyday tasks. 

Experts say it’s essential to keep track of your cognitive performance and discuss any concerns with a healthcare professional. Write down specific examples of issues that you experience as these will help to differentiate between memory loss and loss of recall.

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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