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Forgetfulness: Is it a normal part of aging? By Amanda K. Williams, DO
December 16, 2014

A lot of older adults worry about becoming more forgetful. This is mainly because forgetfulness is often associated with early Alzheimer's disease. Previously, confusion and memory loss were considered a normal part of aging. However, scientists now know that the norm is to remain both alert and able as we age, although remembering things may take a bit longer.

Many people experience memory lapses; some lapses are serious, while others are not. Dementia is the loss of mental functions such as thinking, memory, and reasoning that is severe enough to interfere with a person's daily functioning. Alzheimer's disease is one of many types of dementia.

Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a group of symptoms that are caused by various diseases or conditions. Symptoms may include:

·         Changes in behavior and personality

·         Becoming lost in familiar places

·         Being unable to follow directions

·         Asking the same questions repeatedly

·         Disorientation about time, people, and places

·         Neglecting personal hygiene, safety, and nutrition

Dementia is caused by many conditions, both reversible and irreversible. Examples of reversible conditions are dehydration, bad reactions to medications, high fever, vitamin deficiency, thyroid gland problems, or a minor head injury. Emotional issues such as feeling sad, lonely, or worried can also be mistaken for dementia. Emotional issues can improve with supportive family and friends, or by professional help from a doctor or counselor. Whether or not you are suffering from plain forgetfulness or dementia, it’s a good idea to start the conversation with your doctor.

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