Skip to content

Differences Between Normal Aging and Dementia

We are told that forgetfulness is part of the normal aging process. That makes it difficult to tell the difference between normal aging and dementia. However, you may be surprised that most people age with few memory problems. While memory may gradually decline, the loss will not be substantial and will not occur rapidly. The memory loss associated with normal aging can be inconvenient. Still, it will not impact your quality of life or your ability to do things.

That is excellent news because about 40% of adults over 65 will have some memory loss. In most people, this memory loss is mild. It does not impact day-to-day living. It can, however, be embarrassing to people. It may also require making some moderate accommodations. However, this type of mild memory loss is part of the normal aging process for those people.

If you are worried that your memory loss may be dementia, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does memory loss disrupt my daily life?
  • Does memory loss render me unable to complete tasks I previously knew how to do?
  • Have I stopped being able to learn or remember new things?

If you can answer no to these questions, memory loss is probably part of normal aging.

However, suppose your memory loss is accompanied by other neurological symptoms, such as difficulty speaking or occasional feelings of disorientation. In that case, you may have mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment should not interrupt daily living. However, it is linked to a higher rate of dementia. So, you might consider it a warning sign to get more routine monitoring.

Over 5% of adults will begin to experience dementia. This typically onsets in people older than 60, but early onset dementia is possible. Dementia is worse than memory loss due to normal aging. It is a cluster of symptoms demonstrating declining mental function. Dementia is progressive and generally results in people being unable to care for themselves.

Signs that your memory loss may be dementia:

  • You struggle to learn new things.
  • It interrupts your daily life.
  • People in your life are noticing changes.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor for testing. Early intervention can help delay the onset or progression of dementia in some people.

Back To Top