Age Matters Clinic


Toronto Geriatric Assessment and Memory Clinic

Aging or Dementia?

As you age, your body and mind changes. Hair greys, wrinkles grow deeper, and your memory doesn't work quite the same as it used to. Aging related memory changes are common in later life, particularly after the age of 65. Unfortunately, dementia and degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease are also common in later life. Since changes in memory can be symptoms of aging or of brain diseases, it can be difficult to tell which it is from.

Aging related memory problems are common in many senior citizens. Have you ever gone to grab something from the refrigerator and walked into the kitchen and forgotten what you were there for? Or gone to meet someone for an appointment but couldn't remember why? These every day memory lapses tend to happen more frequently as you age. There are a number of reasons for this. The deterioration of memory occurs as you age because there is a loss of major cells that are essential to both learning and memory. It isn't just one part of the brain that is affected, however. The aging process can affect many different areas of the brain. In addition, memory loss becomes common as you grow older, as the brain naturally begins to shrink and work less effectively. All of these aging related changes can lead to decreased memory function.

On the other hand, dementia can also impact memory function as you age. These types of diseases are serious medical issues that face millions of people all over the world. Dementia is a term that relates to serious degenerative brain diseases, like Alzheimer's disease. Currently, Alzheimer's disease is the most common progressive dementia related disease. It is estimated that it affects 36 million people worldwide. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease get worse and worse over time, and can include loss of memory function, difficulty understanding and processing information, confusion, the inability to care for yourself, and can even alter personality as the disease progresses.

The good news is that it is often possible to tell the difference between aging and dementia. There is an important difference to note between aging related memory loss and dementia. Aging memory loss typically involves forgetting part of something, like why you went to the kitchen, while dementia more likely involves forgetting that you went to the kitchen at all. These small differences in memory loss can be an indication of the specific issues that you may be dealing with.

Understanding the subtle differences between aging related memory loss and the effects of a degenerative brain disease is essential. You may have noticed that a friend or loved one has been forgetful lately. Take note of their mental well being. If you suspect that memory loss of yourself or a loved one may be caused from a dementia, seek proper medical care.

Knowledge is power. This is especially true when it comes to aging related memory issues. It is important to learn the differences between aging memory loss and dementia to seek the best care possible. Educate yourself and your loved ones - and get ready to live life to the fullest.

Are you looking for more information about aging or dementia? Contact the Age Matters Clinic at: 647-268-0620. We understand how to improve the life of Alzheimer's and memory loss patients.