For this article we wanted to consider the question “How does someone know if what they are experiencing is normal aging or something else?”
Signs of Normal vs Abnormal Aging
A brain that is aging without dementia, needs longer to process information and learn something new. It also needs less distractions such as music playing or the TV on in the background when reading or trying to pay attention to a conversation. As we age, the brain holds on to more and more information due to the fact that those brains have taken in more information over a longer period of time. Therefore, recalling a name might become more difficult because there are more people to remember. However, if someone starts to forget the names of people closest to them, or has always been excellent at remembering names, then this may be an indication of something more than normal aging.
Most people start to be concerned about dementia the older they get and this is for a good reason. As we age, the probability of dementia increases. But just because someone forgets why they go into a room, or cannot find a word, does not mean that they have dementia. One thing to pay attention to is if you lose a word, can you think if it later? And if you can’t remember why you are in a room, can you remember why you went in, after retracing your steps? People with dementia will not be able to remember the word or why they were in the room later in the day.
Identifying Significant Change
One of the most important factors is if what someone is experiencing is a significant CHANGE, meaning that if someone has always been challenged at directions and gets turned around while out driving, this may not be an indicator of a not normally aging brain. There are several tests that are given that help provide a good idea of brain function and health. The AD8 is a set of questions that have 3 probable answers which are:
- There is no difference
- Unsure about a difference (there could be a difference in ability but you may not have enough information to answer the question)
- There Is a difference from how the person used to be, or what they could do.
You can download the AD8 test here.
Getting a baseline cognitive test is a very good idea because it is important to know if there is a CHANGE in brain function. If you do find that there is something that is not a normal process of aging, it is best to find that our as soon as possible in order to start making plans, which includes looking into possible support services if ever needed. Orchard at Brookhaven is a focused community in the Atlanta area for people needing support and has a variety of living opportunities in several neighborhoods within the community. These smaller neighborhood offer a variety of choices, purposeful support, individual support plans and a highly trained team.