Your elder’s memory has not been working at full force for quite a while. But lately, she seems to be forgetting details with increasing frequency. And that is not the only thing that is alarming you. She has begun slurring words and sleeping poorly. Does she have depression? Or, is she suffering from dementia, a loss of cognitive abilities, that went unrecognized because of its slow progression?
Well, obviously there is no clear demarcation between these two mental sates. They can work as co-conspirators as depression exacerbates dementia and dementia emboldens depression. And they share many of the same symptoms.
However, there are some distinctions that can be made between them, differentiations which can prove essential as regards treatment:
An elder who is suffering from depression will still be oriented as regards time and place, while disorientation remains an ongoing concern with dementia.
An elder who is experiencing depression might have trouble concentrating, but lapses in short-term memory are much more symptomatic of dementia.
When depression grips a person language and motor skills are most typically slow but normal. However, dementia can impair not only writing and speaking but also motor skills.
People who are depressed tend to be more aware of their cognitive lapses than are those who are developing dementia.
Don’t, however, fall into the trap of figuring it is “just depression,” not something more serious such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Rather, these lowered feelings are serious challenges which can jeopardize an elder’s well-being on many levels, not something to be taken lightly. And researchers estimate that fully 20 per cent of seniors suffer from symptoms of depression despite the fact only a much smaller percentage – 1 to 2% – suffer from major depression. And the statistics for women are even higher.
For more information about aging gracefully, read Rounding the Circle of Love: Growing Up As She Grows Old, which is being sold through Amazon.