What is normal aging and what is dementia? - : Jump to: Search, Content

What is normal aging and what is dementia?

Normal Aging

As we age, many of us begin to have problems with our health or see problems that we already have grow worse. This does not mean that we have to accept this situation and think: "It's because of age." We have to pay attention to our body no matter how old we are. Our memory is just like any other part of our body: it changes as the years go by. As we age, we do not move, we do not think, nor do we remember things like we used to. That's why at times we forget dates or things we have to do. This is NORMAL. These are natural memory lapses...

  • when we forget something for a moment
  • when we have a lot of things on our mind and we forget something
  • when we have a mental list of things to do and we forget some of them
  • when, for a second, we can't remember where we put something

All of us have memory lapses like these. This happens to all of us no matter our age. What is not normal is:

  • forgetting things we do every day
  • forgetting the names of our loved ones
  • forgetting words we use every day
  • forgetting past events and memories that we always remembered before
  • forgetting what we have to do because we are confused and we can't do our daily activities

When our friends or relatives notice that these memory lapses are very frequent, this is NOT NORMAL.


Maybe you've heard the word "dementia" and think that it's the same as being crazy. This is not true. Dementia is a problem in the brain that can happen to persons, young or old. Dementia can be associated with a strong blow to the head that affects the brain or with a medical history of stroke, hypertension, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, depression, HIV, tumors, kidney or liver failure, chronic alcoholism and blood clots in the brain, among other things. Someone with dementia can have problems such as:

  • memory loss
  • getting lost (not know where you are when you are in a familiar place)
  • lack of concentration
  • confusion
  • difficulty making decisions that you used to make easily before
  • poor judgment
  • personality change
  • not being able to function at home or at work like you used to before

When a person begins to develop dementia, these problems appear slowly. However, dementia has such a strong impact on the person that he or she may change the way they act. There are several types of dementia. It is believed that the most common dementias among Latinos are Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia (associated, for example, with diabetes and stroke).

Asking for help was hard at first. I wanted my children to believe their father was fine!

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