Hebrew SeniorLife created the word ReAge to reflect the breadth and depth of services we offer: providing world-class health care; building innovative senior communities; funding groundbreaking research; and teaching future generations of geriatricians.

ReAge, a combination of “redefine” and “aging,” means to question everything about the aging process. Through ReAging, we are challenging conventions in order to create and implement new standard-of-care approaches that will positively impact the lives of older adults.

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Does my parent have dementia?: Noticing memory problems in aging parents

You and Your Aging Parents

Ruth Kandel, MD's picture
Ruth Kandel
Ruth Kandel

In the fall of 2012, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians for our inaugural "You and Your Aging Parents" program, an important discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Overwhelmingly positive response indicates the need for this information and Hebrew SeniorLife continues to offer this program. Check our events listing for upcoming events. 

In addition, we published expert advice from the first program in an ebook, You and Your Aging Parents,” which Hebrew SeniorLife is offering as a free downloadable pdf. The discussion also inspired our “You and Your Aging Parents” blog series, a series that includes this blog post and covers the various issues and concerns you may encounter as you and your parent/s continue on the journey of aging.

It is not uncommon to experience some memory loss as we get older.  Although your loved one may complain of memory problems, that does not mean they have dementia. Mild forgetfulness is part of normal aging and should not interfere with one’s ability to participate in everyday activities.

Common memory problems include difficulty remembering names and details of events. Also, there is a wide variability in rate and amount of decline so it is not helpful to compare your loved one with others.

In contrast, significant memory loss is not a part of normal aging. These symptoms, that are progressive over time, interfere with one’s everyday functional abilities. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out if a loved one’s memory problems are due to normal aging or dementia. If there is any concern, it is a good idea to consult a clinician who can often provide a diagnosis after a thorough evaluation.  If dementia is diagnosed, there are now medications available for treatment of the cognitive impairment as well as behavioral symptoms.

To download your copy of our “You and Your Aging Parent” ebook, visit our website, www.agingredefined.org.

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Geriatrician, Hebrew SeniorLife, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Ruth Kandel obtained her bachelor's degree from State University of New York, Buffalo and her medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She completed a residency in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital and a geriatrics fellowship at Bedford Veteran's Administration Hospital/Boston University Medical Center. She provides inpatient primary care and is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Her academic interests include Alzheimer's disease, memory disorders, and...

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