Fact or Myth: "Dementia is a Normal Part of Aging"

With the increase in life expectancy and the number of people over the age of 65 expected to double in the next 40 years it is important to understand the difference between normal signs of aging and signs of dementia.  Normal cognitive changes can be mistaken as early stages of dementia but as we age these changes can be expected which is why it is important to distinguish between the two. 

 

According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, almost 40 per cent of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. When there is no underlying medical condition causing this memory loss, it is known as "age-associated memory impairment," which is considered a part of the normal aging process.
 

Normal signs of aging: Forgetting details of conversations or events that happened years ago.

Signs of dementia: Not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that happened yesterday

 

Normal signs of aging: Not being able to remember the names of certain acquaintances.

Signs of dementia: Forgetting the names of family members.

 

Normal signs of aging: Forgetting where you parked your car.

Signs of dementia: Forgetting you have a car. 

 

Normal signs of aging: Difficulty finding the right word but still able to carry on a conversation.

Signs of dementia: Often misusing words, repeating stories or phrases in the same conversation.

 

Normal signs of aging: Judgement and decision making remains the same.

Signs of dementia: May show poor judgement along with difficulty making decisions on their own, ie. wearing a T-shirt outdoors in a snow storm.

 

Age-Related Changes in the body that may be confused as signs of dementia

  • Changes in eyesight; as we age our peripheral vision decreases and we may experience differences in our depth perception (Vision change can be a sign of Alzheimer’s but this can also been seen in older adults who may be developing cataracts)