What Are the Most Common Signs of Dementia in Seniors?

What Are the Signs Your Loved One May Have Dementia?

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If your senior loved one is extremely forgetful, you might wonder if he or she has dementia, but you realize mild memory loss is part of the aging process. If you’re concerned your aging loved one may have dementia, keep reading to learn how to discern the telltale signs that distinguish normal age-related forgetfulness from dementia. 

Age-Related Memory Loss


In the senior years, people gradually lose the ability to process and recall information. Still, these memory lapses don’t interfere with daily activities, such as taking care of personal hygiene, paying bills, and following directions.

Examples of age-related memory loss include:

  • Misplacing car keys
  • Entering a room and forgetting why
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Pausing occasionally to find the right word in a conversation

This slow cognitive decline is due to three types of brain changes:

  • Decreased rate of brain cell production and repair
  • Less blood flow to the brain
  • Impairment of the hippocampus, the region that catalogs and retrieves memories

However, age-related memory loss isn’t disabling and doesn’t threaten a senior’s independence.

Dementia-Related Cognitive Decline

Roughly 10 percent of people over age 65 experience dementia. In this case, harmful proteins build around and within the brain cells, or neurons. The proteins damage the neurons that store information, particularly new data.

Various diseases spawn the destructive proteins that drive dementia. In turn, brain deterioration affects these cognitive functions:

 

  • Reasoning
  • Language skills
  • Memory
  • Conceptual thinking
  • Problem-solving

Meanwhile, dementia can provoke psychological changes, such as anxiety, depression, and paranoia. The disorder is also progressive. In its later stages, dementia can prompt aggression, hallucinations, and combative behaviors.

Dementia is a serious issue that affects a senior’s health, wellbeing, and ability to perform everyday activities. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of home care service families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Common Signs of Dementia

Below are some typical signs of dementia you may notice that are distinct from the signs of age-related memory loss:

  • Difficulty performing routine tasks – Due to waning neural connections, your loved one may find it challenging to complete once-familiar activities, such as getting dressed, preparing a meal, or engaging in a favorite hobby.
  • Forgetfulness that markedly disrupts everyday life – A senior with dementia often forgets conversations, peoples’ names, and appointments. Most affected is short-term memory. Thus, it’s difficult to recall recent information.
  • Impaired sense of time or place – Dementia causes confusion and disorientation. For instance, your loved one might be unaware of the day of the week. Wandering outside and getting lost are also common. Moreover, dementia makes it difficult to follow directions.
  • Problems communicating – Your loved one may frequently draw a blank when he or she can’t remember a word. Or your parent might use terms unrelated to the conversation, and you may need to interpret what your loved one means by his or her gestures. Additionally, seniors with dementia tend to repeat words, phrases, and questions.
  • Misplaced possessions – You may regularly find yourself having to search for your loved one’s personal items, such as eyeglasses or dentures. Or you might find objects in strange places, such as a wristwatch in the fridge.
  • Poor judgment – Brain deterioration leads to actions that are inappropriate or dangerous—for example, going outside in a t-shirt and shorts while it’s snowing or trying to cross a busy street without checking the flow of traffic.
  • Difficulty accomplishing complex tasks – Dementia undermines the ability to plan, organize, and function systematically. Moreover, it can disrupt motor function and coordination.
  • Personality changes – A person with dementia may act out of character. A formerly sweet, outgoing senior might become sullen and suspicious, or a loved one who was typically stable emotionally may start to have mood swings.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, consider hiring a professional caregiver. The type of home care Fremont, CA, seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Assisting Hands Home Care, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.

Getting an Expert Diagnosis


If your loved one shows any of the above signs of dementia, make an appointment with his or her primary care doctor. The physician might conduct a cognitive screening or refer you to a geriatric specialist for a thorough workup. The assessment can include:

  • Blood work
  • Brain imaging
  • Cognitive tests
  • Neurological evaluation

Note that even if you suspect dementia, your loved one may not have it. Instead, another condition could be causing the dementia-like symptoms, and treating the cause may resolve the problems. Reversible conditions include:

  • Medication side effects
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Depression
  • Nutritional imbalances or deficiencies
  • Infections

Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Fremont families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life. Call us at (510) 270-4948 to learn about our comprehensive in-home care plans.