It’s normal to forget some things as we get older. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, almost 40 per cent of people over age 65 experience some type of memory loss. Dementia and related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are more than just forgetfulness.
Dementia is a loss of mental function that affects daily activities. It is caused by a loss of cells in the brain and the breakdown of important nerve connections. Since early diagnosis may help to slow the progression of the condition, it’s essential to know when to see your doctor.
Use these signs to understand if what you or a relative is experiencing is age-related or something more. The symptoms below are only signs, so if you have doubts see your physician.
This symptom becomes a warning sign when it affects your everyday life, like if you’re forgetting things often or struggling to retain new information.
Severe mood swings can be a sign, as well as changes to your personality, or if you are feeling paranoid and threatened.
Judgment and reasoning problems
This can be something as simple as wearing heavier clothing on a warm day, or a more serious issue like not realizing a medical problem needs attention. Difficulty with abstract thinking — like not understanding what numbers mean on a calculator or how they’re used — can also be cause for concern.
It’s okay if you occasionally can’t find the right words, but if you notice yourself needing to frequently pause or find substitutions when searching for words, this could be an early warning sign of dementia.
The federal government is working on a national dementia strategy that will complement existing initiatives to promote awareness, reduce stigma and support those affected and is committed to helping improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and their caregivers.