As a person gets older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. Certain parts of the brain shrink, especially those important to learning and other complex mental activities. In certain brain regions, communication between neurons (nerve cells) may not be as effective.4
Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It includes the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, learning, and reasoning — and behavioral abilities to the extent that it interferes with a person’s quality of life and activities. Memory loss, though common, is not the only sign of dementia.
The 10 warning signs of dementia
The overall volume of the brain begins to shrink when we’re in our 30s or 40s, with the rate of shrinkage increasing around age 60. But, the volume loss isn’t uniform throughout the brain — some areas shrink more, and faster, than other areas.
Cognitive impairment in older adults has a variety of possible causes, including medication side effects; metabolic and/or endocrine derangements; delirium due to illness (such as a urinary tract or COVID-19 infection); depression; and dementia, with Alzheimer’s dementia being most common.
Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses.
Confusion in the elderly patient is usually a symptom of delirium or dementia, but it may also occur in major depression and psychoses. Until another cause is identified, the confused patient should be assumed to have delirium, which is often reversible with treatment of the underlying disorder.
People with dementia have problems with thinking, memory, and reasoning, and lose the ability to carry out tasks of daily living. They may also experience changes in personality, mood, and behavior. Dementia is typically defined in seven stages. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
Answer From Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D. The term “sundowning” refers to a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night. Sundowning can cause a variety of behaviors, such as confusion, anxiety, aggression or ignoring directions.
Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:
Signs of cognitive decline
When your brain shrinks, there are fewer connections between neurons, and the neurotransmitter systems that communicate information from the brain to different parts of the body change, resulting in numerous complications. All of these factors play a role in the aging process and age-related cognitive decline.
Be aware of the signs of dementia increasing difficulty with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning. changes in personality and mood. periods of mental confusion. difficulty finding the right words or not being able to understand conversations as easily.
Mild dementia is also defined by cognitive impairment and poor performance on objective cognitive assessments that represents a decline from the past, but importantly, dementia requires evidence of significant difficulties in daily life that interfere with independence.
The following procedures also may be used to diagnose dementia: