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Normal Forgetfulness vs. Dementia: What’s the Difference?

Nest & Care

– Katharina Villanueva, RN, BSN, CCRN-K, CNRN, SCRN

Do you know someone who constantly forgets? This isn’t just forgetting about where the car keys are or when a birthday will be. Sometimes, forgetfulness goes beyond the range of normalcy. Someone close to you could be showing the signs of dementia but are not aware of it as most people who do are usually oblivious of their condition. This article lists the significant differences between normal age-related forgetfulness and dementia, but do note that the symptoms listed in this article are not intended to diagnose but rather to help guide your understanding of these differences:

  1. What happened?

    Normal: When it comes to remembering details of a conversation or events that took place several months or even a year ago, normal forgetfulness could set in. It is admittedly hard to recall what happened or what was said if the memory is not as fresh.

    Possible Indicator of Dementia: Most people would be able to remember pertinent details that happened recently, but for people with dementia, doing so is difficult. Even reminders for dates and items rarely work. This includes frequently missing important events like birthdays and meetings. Being prompted with facts that reconnect to that conversation would bring back memories for normal forgetfulness, but the same would not be true for cases of dementia.

  2. Who are you?

    Normal: Even young people have difficulty recalling the name of someone they just met. This is normal since the identities of these acquaintances are not yet etched in our long-term memory bank.

    Dementia: The neurons in our brain automatically fire whenever we see a friend or relative since constant exposure builds up a lot of associative memories tied to that specific person. This makes it easier to remember them. Not being able to recall or recognize the names and faces of family members, therefore, could be a potential sign of dementia.

  3. Can you repeat that?

    Normal: If the memory is normal, reminders about an event that’s coming up would easily be remembered and noted.

    Dementia: On the other hand, repetition of forgetfulness could happen when reminders for someone’s name or the date for an event was already given but was nevertheless forgotten. If the same reminder must be repeated again and again, there’s a strong chance that the forgetfulness is not normal.

    Dementia is more than just memory loss, and it could manifest differently for different people, but in general, other symptoms could include loss of motor abilities, disorientation, personality changes, and more. Awareness of these symptoms is the first step to giving the right care to your loved one.

Nest & Care is a dedicated in-home care in Montgomery County, MD. We provide service in Rockville, Bethesda, Silver Spring, and its neighboring communities. If you’re looking for a dedicated and professional caregiver who can help a loved one for their daily needs, Nest & Care can help. We carefully match each client with the best caregiver and formulate an individualized plan that best suits the family’s needs and goals.  Excellent service to our clients and families is of paramount importance to us. Call us today for your free in-home assessment by a Nest & Care Registered Nurse.

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Katharina Villanueva, RN, BSN, CCRN-K, CNRN, SCRN

Administrator at Nest & Care, LLC

Kat is the administrator of Nest & Care. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, she worked as a Stroke Program Coordinator at Providence Hospital in Washington, DC for 4 years and as a Registered Nurse for 6 years in the Neurosurgical ICU unit of Keck Medical Center of USC (formerly USC University Hospital) in Los Angeles, CA. She obtained her BSN in 1998 from University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. Kat is married and has 3 children.

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