What’s Normal for Memory in Seniors?

Posted: 4/27/2018 6:53 AM by Interim HealthCare
One of the things that older adults and their family members sometimes worry about is memory loss. After all, the prospect of a dementia or Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis is troublesome, to say the least. Some forgetfulness is normal with aging. However, it can be hard to know what’s normal and when it’s time to talk to a doctor.

Age and Memory
Just like the rest of the body, the brain experiences age-related changes. Some changes that can affect memory are:
  • Deterioration of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for building and recalling memories.
  • Production of hormones and proteins that are responsible for neural growth and the protection of brain cells declines.
  • Blood flow to the brain is reduced. 
  • Older adults might notice they take longer to recall some information. For example, they may be telling someone about a book they recently read and forget the title. Or, they may walk into a room to get or do something but forget what it was when they get there. It might also take longer for them to learn new information.
However, the physiological changes to the brain that cause normal age-related memory loss don’t usually affect certain other functions, such as:
  • Doing the things the senior has always done and still does.
  • Knowledge gained from life experiences.
  • Common sense, the ability to reason, and making sound judgements. 
  • Normal vs. Abnormal Memory Changes
  • Discerning the difference between what is normal and what isn’t can be difficult. The following things are typical changes that don’t indicate dementia:
  • Forgetting where they put something, like keys, once in a while.
  • Not remembering the names of acquaintances.
  • Calling someone by the wrong name, such as calling one grandchild by another grandchild’s name.
  • Sometimes forgetting about an appointment.
  • Going to a room and then forgetting why they went there.
  • Feeling like something is on “the tip of the tongue,” but being unable to recall it.
  • Being easily distracted or not remembering something just read or conversation details. 
Experts say that it is time to worry when memory loss interferes with daily life. When a person has trouble doing things they’ve always done or when relationships are affected, it’s time to talk to the doctor. Generally, a diagnosis of dementia requires that two or more cognitive abilities are affected.
Should your aging relative be diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, home care can help them to remain safely in their homes for longer. Home care providers can keep an eye on a senior with dementia so that they don’t do something unsafe, such as wandering away or misusing an appliance. Home care providers can also remind older adults to take medications and supervise while they do to ensure the right amount is taken. In addition, home care providers can prepare healthy meals and ensure the senior continues to eat well.

Learn more about memory loss care.