The difference between forgetfulness and dementia


Forgetfulness and dementia reflect our cognitive health, which is the ability to think, learn, and remember clearly. It is normal to be a bit forgetful as we age. If you cannot immediately recall a word you want or mislaid the car keys, do not be concerned. Occasional forgetfulness doesn’t necessarily mean your cognitive health is at risk. Dementia, on the other hand, is not a normal part of aging.

Dementia is the loss of cognitive function to such an extent that it interferes with daily activities and life. The personalities of some people with dementia may change, or they have difficulty controlling their emotions. The most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and mixed dementia.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a milder form of cognitive function loss. People with MCI have more thinking or memory problems than the average person their age, but it does not affect their daily activities to the extent that dementia would.

Are you wondering what normal forgetfulness is, how to deal with it, and when you should visit the doctor? This guide might answer some of your questions.

What’s normal forgetfulness and what’s not?

As previously stated, it is normal to forget things at times. A serious memory problem, however, will affect your daily life, making it hard to perform activities such as using the phone, driving, and even finding the way home.

If you feel concerned about any changes in thinking or memory, either your own or that of a loved one, talk to your doctor. To prepare for your conversation, compare what is normal forgetfulness with what might be signs of dementia, and a condition like Alzheimer’s disease. 

Normal forgetfulness Alzheimer’s disease
Forgetting which day it is but remembering later Losing track of the date or time of year
Losing belongings from time to time Misplacing items often and being unable to find them
Making a bad decision once in a while Making poor decisions and bad judgments a lot of the time
Missing one monthly payment Struggling to take care of monthly bills
Sometimes forgetting which word to use Trouble having a conversation


Tips for dealing with forgetfulness

When you are concerned about forgetfulness, there are many constructive steps you can take to manage it. Here are some tips for dealing with forgetfulness.  

  • Sleep at least seven to eight hours every night.
  • Eat healthy foods and do moderate exercise.
  • Enjoy lots of time with family and friends.
  • Volunteer at a school, in your community, or a place of worship.
  • Place your glasses, phone, keys, purse, or wallet in the same place every day.
  • Make to-do lists and make notes on calendars as a reminder.
  • Learn a new skill, especially if it is something you always dreamed of doing.

When to visit the doctor for memory loss

Memory loss can have many possible causes. It could be due to depression, a lack of vitamins from unhealthy eating, a stressful life event, or the side-effects of medication. When you are concerned about memory loss, talk to your doctor. They may suggest a thorough checkup, perform tests and assessments, and even recommend a visit to a neurologist, if necessary. 

When you or a loved one demonstrate certain behaviors, a doctor’s visit becomes essential. These behaviors include:

  • Getting lost in familiar settings.
  • Becoming more confused about people, time, and places.
  • Not taking care of oneself by not bathing, eating poorly, or behaving unsafely. 
  • Having trouble following directions, instructions, or recipes.
  • Asking the same question repeatedly. 

The cause of dementia is often unknown, and there is no treatment. Early detection is valuable because an early diagnosis helps with managing the symptoms and planning for the future.

For more information, or if you have any questions about forgetfulness and dementia, please contact our team at UMC today. We look forward to hearing from you.

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