On October 14th and 21st, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians to hold an importance discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Those discussions culminated 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 which 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.