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The Differences Between Dementia and Normal Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is a standard part of getting older and sometimes can be mistaken for dementia. Below, we have listed some of the most common differences between normal aging and dementia.


Signs of normal aging include:

  • Transience or absentmindedness: Transience means forgetting old memories over time. This also means that the brain is acting normally because the process of removing old or unused memories to make room for new ones is a normal, healthy function. This forgetting of old or unused memories is something that happens to everyone. Absentmindedness is the act of forgetting something like an appointment as a result of being preoccupied. This is also a completely normal occurrence and happens to everyone at some point in their life.
  • Other mental issues: Aging people who suffer from ailments like anxiety or depression are often mistaken for having signs of dementia. Anxiety and depression can cause abnormal forgetfulness in people of all ages and should not be confused with dementia.

Signs of dementia include:

  • Forgetting important information or names of loved ones: Forgetting their birthday or the name of their significant other goes beyond normal forgetfulness.
  • Personality changes: Dementia patients can become more prone to things like irritability, aggression, or impulsiveness when they were not prone to those behavioral patterns before.
  • Disorientation: Events like traveling to a friend’s house or a new, unfamiliar building can lead to disorientation. This may lead to heightened aggression as the dementia patient becomes uncomfortable with new and unfamiliar environments.

You can call us a (605) 791-5111 to see if you or your loved one would be a good fit for our Memory Care community.