Depression, Dementia, Delirium: What’s the Difference?

In years gone by there was at times a common misunderstanding that an older person would get “senile dementia” explicitly because they were aging. Today, we understand that this is not true, that many seniors do not experience significant cognitive changes and live well into old age with little to no decline in cognitive functioning. However, when an older person begins to demonstrate signs of cognitive change, it can be challenging to determine the exact causes as many of the symptoms apply to multiple diagnoses including depression, dementia and delirium.

When an older adult begins to show changes in memory, thinking ability, mood and function it is essential to identify exactly what changes are being demonstrated, when they began, how they are affecting the person and how different they are from yesterday, last week or last year. It is vital to seek professional assistance in evaluating these changes to determine their cause, identify treatment options and then proceed to providing needed care and plan for future care.

Cognitive function involves much more than memory. It can be defined as the mental act of process of knowing (or acquiring knowledge) including aspects such as awareness, perception, judgement, recognition and reasoning. As healthy seniors age, there can be some expected changes related to aging which often connect to:

  • Speed with which a senior can complete a cognitive task
  • Ability to learn new or unfamiliar information
  • Degree of complexity of the task
  • Ability to actively problem-solve

When changes more significant than these occur in a very short period of time (over hours or days) and are accompanied by an inability to perform activities of daily living, a distinction between dementia, delirium and depression needs to be made.

For more information on this topic please view our full article at: www.matrixadvocare.com/Newsletters/V20_N1.PDF

Matrix AdvoCare Network is an experienced provider of care management, health care advocacy and home health care for seniors and people with disabilities affected by depression, dementia and delirium. Our RN Care Managers are knowledgeable about the health needs and problems of older adults and people with disabilities. By working with clients and families to identify needs, goals and objectives, Care Managers recommend health and services which meet clients’ needs and help them achieve their goals. For more information on how Matrix AdvoCare Network can help you or your loved one, please call 952-525-0505 or visit our website at: http://www.matrixadvocare.com/

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Posted in Caregiver Support, Dementia / Alzheimer's, Diseases and Conditions, Health Care Advocate, Home Health Care, Mental Health, Nursing Care Management, Vulnerable Adults

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