mental illness

Mental Illness or Aging Effects? Health Tips from Elder Care Franchises

After spending a lifetime together, we sometimes feel as though we know the habits, thought processes, and behaviors of our loved ones better than the backs of our hands. And yet, as the year go by and new behaviors emerge, it can become difficult to distinguish between those brought on by the aging process, and those that are indicative of the onset of early dementia.

In part because of the awareness work conducted by elder care franchises, dementia has become a much more familiar word in our cultural lexicon, but many families still depend on professional care givers – and resources like these – to identify warning signs. In this post, our elder care franchise describes some signs of normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia to help equip families with the diagnostic tools they need to make the best choices for their loved ones.

Understanding Dementia

Contrary to what many families think, dementia is not a specific disease. In reality, it’s a group of symptoms that indicate at least two distinct disruptions to healthy brain function. Typically, dementia is first identified when memory loss, impaired judgment, and the decline of social and lingual abilities becomes severe enough to disrupt daily functioning. Understanding the difference between dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and the symptoms of aging can help families identify when it’s time to seek the help of elder care franchises or other qualified medical personnel.

The Symptoms of Aging

The follow symptoms are commonly mistaken as being indicators of dementia:

  • Noticeable slowing of the body
  • Noticeable drop in processing speed, though intelligence and lucidity remain
  • The decline of mental and physical flexibility
  • Greater difficulty memorizing names of people or places
  • The occasional loss of items or belongings
  • Occasionally lingual problems with “tip of the tongue” words
  • Indicators of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

The following symptoms are typically associated with MCI. Though MCI is often not a detriment to daily function, it does increase the individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone diagnosed with MCI will develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

  • Noticeable, recurrent memory loss that does not put the individual in danger or distress
  • Traceable memory loss shown through mental function test scores

Signs of Dementia

The following symptoms may be early indicators of dementia. If you notice any of the following symptoms in the behaviors of your loved ones, please contact an elder care franchise near you to learn about professional diagnoses and treatment options:

  • Recurrent memory loss that affects daily life and physical safety
  • Difficulty with lingual skills, including speech, writing, reading, and comprehension
  • Difficulty making sense of maps, symbols, or other non-lingual forms of communication
  • Noticeably worse depth perception
  • Difficulty planning, problem solving, and maintaining focus
  • Complaints of feeling lost, especially in familiar places
  • Repetitive questions, especially in rapid succession
  • Frequent falls or difficulty maintaining balance
  • Odd behaviors inconsistent with their character or thought processes, including apathy and changes in dietary habits
  • Noticeable decrease in personal hygiene

Early detection of dementia is extremely difficult for untrained individuals, especially when their perception of loved ones may be biased or blindly optimistic. Diagnosing a loved one is even more difficult because many of the symptoms associated with dementia also manifest as a high-stress response.

If you have questions about the mental health of your family member, it’s in your best interest to contact an elder care franchise in your area. You can learn more about the Senior Helpers franchise by visiting