As we age, it’s normal to experience some memory loss and decline in mental acuity. Misplacing keys or forgetting an appointment from time to time is not necessarily a cause for concern, as long as it’s only on occasion, and you or your loved one is able to recall things later. However, if memory lapses are frequent and they impact a person’s ability to manage everyday tasks, this could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is not a disease, but it’s also not the same as “going senile”, which implies it’s a normal part of getting older. Dementia is a clinical term used to describe a severe decline in memory or thinking skills that interferes with daily life. While symptoms of dementia vary, a diagnosis requires that two cognitive functions, such as memory, language, reasoning and judgement, visual perception or focus, must be impaired.
There are many disorders that can cause dementia symptoms, including thyroid disease and vitamin deficiencies, which can be reversed. Other forms of dementia can be caused by a stroke, Parkinson’s or HIV. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80 percent of dementia cases and, according to alz.org, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow to nearly 14 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible brain disorder that affects memory, thinking skills and behavior. It’s also progressive, which means that it usually develops slowly and gets worse with time, until the individual loses the ability to perform daily tasks, or even carry on a conversation.
For most people with Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms first appear in their mid-sixties, however, individuals with symptoms before the age of 65 can be diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Although there is no cure for the disease, there are treatments that can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve the quality of life for those with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As the disease progresses, an assisted living community or memory care facility will eventually become a necessity.
When to Seek Help for Memory Loss
If you notice an increase in memory lapses, problems planning or solving problems, increased confusion, difficulty completing familiar tasks or a decline in daily function in yourself or a loved one, see your doctor immediately.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, it may be time to consider an assisted living community or 24-hour memory care. For more than 40 years, The Wesley Community has provided enriched living in Saratoga Springs at Woodlawn Commons, and compassionate long-term care and memory support for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in Saratoga, Glens Falls and the Adirondacks. Contact us for more information, or call (518) 587-3600 to speak with the director of admissions.