Page 6 - BusinessWest 2021 Senior Planning Guide
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  Recognizing the Signs of Dementia
Am I Forgetting More Than Usual? Should I Be Concerned?
s Baby Boomers continue to age, there
is increasing concern as to whether they
have dementia. Let’s make a few things clear. First, dementia is not a part of normal ag- ing. However, there are aspects of normal aging that may have you second-guessing whether you may have the start of a memory-related disorder.
How many of us forget where we have misplaced an item? “Those keys — where are they?” Normal aging will give you the skill set to problem-solve. “Well, I made it home, so the keys must be around here somewhere. I was bringing the groceries in the house — are the keys in the door? No. OK, keep backtracking — I put the grocery bag on the counter; let me empty the grocery bag. Oh, the keys fell in the bag and have traveled to the bottom under the frozen food.”
Congratulations — you have the ability to
problem solve. But someone with dementia may never find the keys. They could be in the garbage with the grocery bag or they don’t look for the keys in the first place because they do not know they’re missing, or they find them and have no idea what the keys are for. There is a striking difference in these scenarios.
Let’s take a closer look at some comparisons between normal aging and dementia. Some risk factors for dementia — many of which can be changed with diet, exercise, and lifestyle — age, high blood
pressure, diabetes, depression, obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and being less physically and mentally active.
The Normal Aging Process
Common signs of aging include occasional word- finding difficulty when speaking or writing (but being able to recall the word given time). You may misplace an item, but have the ability to problem-solve possible
locations of that item.
You may also experience occasional memory
issues, but not significant enough to affect daily living. For example, you may forget the name of a person who is seen only occasionally, or can’t remember the author of a book you just read or the title, but eventually you can bring it up.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
MCI is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, but some people may never go beyond MCI. Symptoms may include forgetting things more often (appointments, events, your way around familiar places); trouble following conversations, books, or movies; difficulty making decisions; withdrawal from social activities; mood and personality changes; new problems finding words when speaking or writing; and friends and family noticing these changes.
Common Symptoms of Dementia
• Memory loss that affects day-to-day function. It’s normal to occasionally forget appointments or a friend’s phone number and remember them later. A person with dementia may forget things more often and not remember them at all.
Continued on page 54
  “Of 153,991 residents in Springfield,
17,908 residents
are age 65 or older, and 16.9% of them reported living
with a diagnosis of
Alzheimer’s disease or other chronic condition causing dementia. The national average is 13.6%.”
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    6 AUGUST 2021

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