Dementia versus Normal Aging

 

Dementia versus Normal Aging pic

Dementia versus Normal Aging
Image: alzheimers.net

In early 2017, Dr. Antonio Bullon became an attending psychiatrist at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Antonio Bullon comes to this role with more than two decades of psychiatric experience and five years of experience working exclusively with patients who have neuropsychiatric illnesses, including those affecting memory.

Medical science accepts that nearly 40 percent of individuals over 65 will experience memory impairment in some form. In many cases, this memory loss is mild and not related to any kind of neurodegenerative disease. In others, symptoms impair the individual’s ability to function independently and interact socially, at which time a diagnosis of dementia is appropriate.

While many adults struggle to remember events that occurred months to years in the past, a person with dementia cannot recall recent conversations or activities. It may become difficult for this individual to construct a sentence and carry on a conversation, whereas a peer without dementia may simply have difficulty finding a word from time to time.

Similarly, although it is normal for an older individual to forget the name of someone he or she does not know well, a person with dementia may forget the name or face of a close family member. He or she may also forget how to perform basic self-care tasks, such as bathing and eating at regular periods.

The individual’s family and friends often begin to notice and show concern about these changes when the patient is not aware of a problem, whereas an individual with normal age-related memory loss is likely to be much more cognizant of his or her own lapses than family members or friends would be.

Similar differences in awareness may also occur in relation to personality and emotional changes. Loved ones of patients with dementia often notice bizarre behaviors and alterations in expression, whereas the patient seems not to recognize that anything is different. In these cases, it is important for the family to seek help from a qualified professional.

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