Dementia vs. Memory Loss: What’s the difference?

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You probably have had this experience: your parents try to tell you something, but the next second they forget what to say.


At that moment, you may have wondered if this memory lapse is related to memory loss while we age or, it could be something more serious, like dementia. These worries are quite common. 



As we age, memory loss may happen more and more frequently. If there is no underlying medical condition related to the memory loss, it is called “age-associated memory impairment”. 


Here comes the question: what is the difference between age-related memory loss and dementia?




Memory loss caused by dementia is not a normal part of the process of aging, and thus the differences can be distinct.





We forget things while we age, but for people with dementia, forgetfulness may happen more frequently. People with dementia tend to forget important information recently required, like their appointments or the names of people they just met. The impact could be detrimental to their daily life.


Loss for Words


The difference is distinct when we forget a word and try to keep the conversation going. If we use a synonym to keep the conversation going, it may be age-related memory loss. By contrast, people with dementia may stop for a long time and then make unusual substitutions.



Facial Recognition


It’s normal to have trouble remembering the name of our childhood neighbor, and it may be a sign of dementia if we often struggle to remember the name of a family member.




For people with dementia, they probably have not realized their problems. Their family and friends are often concerned about their situation and they usually take a notice of every subtle change of people with dementia. However, people who are struggling with age-related memory loss may be concerned about their memory loss while people around them may not.



Normal age-associated memory impairment


About 40% of people aged 65 and older will experience age-associated memory impairment and only around 1% of them will eventually have dementia. Practicing the following skills may relieve age-related memory loss and increase the quality of life.


First, get organized. Always try to put items in the same position so that it is easier for you to find them. It is not just for your items. Organize your appointments and information as well. 



Second, keep routines. Routines will help you do everything more smoothly. 


Third, make connections. When you learn new things, try to make connections with things you have already known.

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These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.