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Natural ageing and dementia, the 10 key differences - Part 1

Natural ageing and dementia, the 10 key differences - Part 1

Published By , 4 years ago

If you’re a Professional Carer working in Aged Care then you’re bound to encounter many different illnesses suffered by your clients. These can range from physical diseases such as arthritis to mental illnesses like depression. Identifying and dealing with these can be difficult at times, but as a Professional Carer you’re well prepared to help your clients through whatever issues they might have.

Of the many illnesses that you’ll encounter, none will be more common than dementia which affects over 350,000 Australians to varying degrees. As a Professional Carer you’ll need to be able to identify the symptoms of dementia in order to best tailor your care to your client. In saying this, general ageing and dementia can often be confused as being one and the same, which is not only wrong, but can affect the quality of care that you’re providing in a negative way.

Over the next two weeks, we will be focusing our blogs on this very issue, highlighting 10 key traits of natural ageing and dementia, so you can easily tell the difference.

Memory loss in dementia is persistent and progressive

Loss of memory is the most common and well known symptom of dementia, but it’s important to remember that it isn’t exclusive to it – it affects everyone as they age.

What is mostly exclusive to dementia, however, is the persistent and progressive loss of memory. Where in natural ageing, someone might forget something occasionally, dementia sufferers will tend to forget things on a regular basis, and this will occur more frequently as it develops over time.

Immediate and lifetime memory is affected by dementia

Everyone forgets things from time to time, and in the natural ageing process it may occur a little bit more frequently. However, you’ll find that most will still be able to recall important moments from various periods in their life as well as what they ate for breakfast that day.

This is where people with dementia differ, as they will struggle to remember key memories from the past, and may even forget that they have children. They will also tend to forget things from the immediate past, which may lead them to ask the same question over and over.

Forgetfulness is important in natural ageing

The ability to forget is extremely important to anyone, probably more so in the elderly! This is because through the course of ageing, the brain’s ability to store information will weaken. Given that they’ve lived for so many years and been through so many different experiences, their brains will be trying to make sure that all the important information isn’t forgotten, which means that smaller things such as people’s names aren’t retained.

The tendency to be forgetful at older ages is often confused with dementia, so just try to keep in mind that forgetting smaller things is perfectly natural as we age.

We don’t all have the same ability to remember

The simple fact is that we, as humans, aren’t all born the same – and this includes our capacity to remember. Some of us are just better at retaining memories than others. We all know someone who is naturally forgetful, and if you don’t then it’s probably you (just kidding)!

So this needs to be kept in consideration as well. We can’t assume that an elderly person has dementia because they’re forgetful, that might just be the way they are. Keep this in mind when thinking about how to best tailor your care to your client.

Instructions are harder to follow for dementia sufferers

Those with dementia will find it hard to follow instructions, whether spoken or written. They will find it difficult to perform the mental tasks required to interpret complex sentences, which involve several steps, as their ability to think in an abstract way is affected.

Instructions that involve planning, decision making and organising are all things that people with dementia will struggle with. You’ll find that someone who is simply going through the natural ageing process can do those tasks without much trouble. You need to break down your instructions to people in your care with dementia into simple, one line instructions so that they can keep pace with what you are trying to help them to do.

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