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Difference Between Normal Aging and Dementia

What is Normal Aging and Dementia?

As we age, our cognitive tendencies and abilities gradually decline. However, mild changes in cognition are thought to be a normal part of the aging process. Research reports that age-related modification in brain structures like reduced hippocampal, frontal and temporal lobe volumes indicate normal signs of aging.

But, in case of dementia, declines in cognition are more severe and usually include difficulties navigating, severe memory loss, loss of thinking abilities, rapid forgetting or, solving simple problems and, behaving outside of social rules.

 

Normal Aging

With age, the mental processes – our cognition– naturally declines. The most prominent change that happens in the process of normal aging is cognitive slowing. With regards to verbal skills, vocabulary and language, there is no change, but the potential to figure out a particular word can decline. Memories of previous years remain quite stable, but making new memories can hard, and memory that is working (like trying to recall a mobile number to dial it) is particularly impacted. The potential to focus on a single activity or task is not changed but there is increased discomfort with switching attention or multitasking.

 

Dementia

It is an umbrella term used to describe the reduced brain activity and function that results in the loss of memory and declined language skills, loss of daily living skills and impaired reasoning. The most common cause of dementia is a disease names as Alzheimer’s Disease. Treatments is helpful in this case, but this disease can not be cured. It can last for years or be lifelong.

 

Difference between Normal Aging and Dementia

Description

Normal aging

When there are no underlying medical conditions that result in memory loss, it is called as “age-related memory impairment,” which is basically a part of the normal aging process. Patient is more concerned about alleged forgetfulness and declining memory than the close acquaintances and family members. There is occasional difficulty and trouble in word finding. The aged person does not normally get lost in a familiar lane or territory and even if he does, it is momentarily. He eventually remembers it.

Dementia

Dementia is a group of social symptoms that describe several symptoms of cognitive decline, like memory loss and forgetfulness. It is a symptom of some brain disorders and other memory related diseases that involves loss of thinking, communication and impairment in memory. The patient suffering from this disease is not even aware of his reduced memory loss. Patient is unable to remember even the recent memory of events and he also may need dependency from others with the simple work.

Language

Normal aging

Having a slight trouble finding the right word at times

Dementia

Frequent issues finding the right word or frequently referring to certain things or objects as ‘that thing’ 

Mood and Behaviour

Normal aging

  • People feel a bit anxious and low due to social and family obligations

Dementia

  • People become withdrawn and loose interest in socializing, work or hobbies

Signs and Symptoms

Normal aging

  • Having memory impairment, but responding to multiple-choice options and clues or
  • Slight delays in word finding
  • No changes in daily activities
  • Maintaining visuospatial function
  • Maintaining social skills

Dementia

  • Memory loss which is not related to psychiatric disorder, like schizophrenia.
  • Cognitive and behavioural impairment
  • Reduction in functioning ability
  • Reduced capacity to handle and reason complex tasks
  • Decision-making that is very poor
  • Visuospatial abilities are impaired
  • Alteration of behaviour, personality and comportment

Irritation level

Normal aging

You become irritated if the normal routine is disrupted

Dementia

You become extremely agitated by any alteration or change in routine, especially when this agitation and extreme irritation is atypical of one’s own personality.

Poor Judgement

Normal aging

Make debatable or questionable decisions at times

Dementia

No surety or clue of dressing properly or giving excess money to solicitors

 

Summary

The points of difference between Normal aging and Dementia have been summarized as below:

 

Dr. Amita Fotedar -Dr

Research Consultant: PhD in Environmental Sciences at History of working in Elite Research Institutes like United Nations Development Program
Dr Amita Fotedar is an experienced Research Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in elite Research Institutes like United Nations Development Programme, Istanbul, Turkey, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Srilanka.
Skilled in Biological Sciences, Environmental Health, Natural Resources, Water Resource Management, and Renewable Energy, she has a PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Jammu, India. Apart from her PhD, she has a Post Graduate Diploma in International Studies from International Pacific University, New Zealand Campus, and has also been rewarded a certification in Climate Studies from Harvard University (EdX). She is a recipient of Academic Excellence Award from International Pacific University, New Zealand campus. At present she is pursuing MicroMasters in Sustainable Energy from The University of Queensland, Australia.
She is a Co- founder and Research Advisor for a New Zealand based Sustainability and Environmental Services Entity and is also a member of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association at SDG Academy, offering mentorship (a collaborative network of academic and research institutions under the auspices of UN Secretary-General). She has around 35 national and international publications to her credit.
Dr. Amita Fotedar -Dr

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References :


[0]Image credit: http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/highlighted/images/dementia.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aging_Factors.jpg

[2]Denver, P., & McClean, P. L. (2018). Distinguishing normal brain aging from the development of Alzheimer's disease: inflammation, insulin signalling and cognition. Neural regeneration research, 13(10), 1719.

[3]Irwin, K., Sexton, C., Daniel, T., Lawlor, B., & Naci, L. (2018). Healthy Aging and Dementia: Two Roads Diverging in Midlife? Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 10.

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