As people age, some adults may notice it takes longer to learn new tasks or activities. Retaining information is more difficult. They may also lose items more easily, such as eyeglasses or car keys. It’s common to become more forgetful, or to have trouble recalling certain dates or the details of past experiences. But in some cases, a failing memory is a sign of dementia.\nHow can you tell the difference between normal aging and dementia? The primary difference between the two is that mild forgetfulness does not significantly impact a person’s life, while dementia can have permanent, debilitating effects.\nAs one of the best-rated geriatrics programs in the country, UPMC Geriatric Services strives to maintain a patient’s quality of life and independence. To make an appointment with one of our geriatricians, call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). For more information, visit our website.\nWhat Is Dementia?\nDementia is a broad term that refers to serious memory problems that can affect cognitive abilities like reasoning or language. The memory problem is sometimes caused by Alzheimer’s disease or can be the result of another age-related condition, such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.\nRELATED: Is Hearing Loss a Normal Part of Aging?\nIn many cases, the mind of someone with dementia deteriorates over time until they can no longer complete tasks they used to be able to do. People with dementia may no longer be able to work, clean their home, pay bills, or drive. They may also become lost in familiar areas, forget to turn off the stove, or be unable to remember recent conversations with family members. While dementia can be age-related and commonly occurs in older adults, it is not an inevitable result of aging, and most seniors will never develop it.\nKnowing the Difference Between Dementia and Normal Aging\nKnowing the difference between normal aging and dementia can help you identify the condition sooner. Some signs of normal aging include occasionally making poor decisions, losing items from time to time, forgetting the right word to use, or struggling to remember the date, but remembering it later.\nThose with dementia exhibit more extreme memory issues such as trouble taking care of monthly bills, regularly making poor decisions, losing track of the day or year, difficulty having conversations, or misplacing items and being unable to find them again.\nSigns of Dementia\nDementia symptoms can vary, though these are the most common signs:\n\nMemory loss\nLack of personal care, such as grooming and hygiene\nTrouble recognizing people, places, and events\nDifficulty finding the right words\nInability to focus and pay attention\nTrouble with reasoning and judgment\nDifficulty controlling moods\nChanges in visual perception\n\nAn early diagnosis of dementia enables you or your loved one to receive the maximum benefits from dementia treatments, and allows you to better plan for the future. You should talk with your primary care provider or geriatrician about any signs of dementia you or a loved one are experiencing.\nAs one of the best-rated geriatrics programs in the country, UPMC Geriatric Services strives to maintain a patient’s quality of life and independence. To make an appointment with one of our geriatricians, call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). For more information, visit our website.