Dementia and depression are two very different diseases. One can make a person forget the things they once knew, and forget how to do things in their everyday life. The other takes away the will to even try to do those things in the first place, and can cause a feeling of sadness and loneliness that is just as bad as any other illness.
What you might not know, though, is that in many ways, these two conditions overlap. Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences between them, so that you or your elder care aide can know the symptoms if you come across them in your aging parent or loved one.
Trouble concentrating – With both dementia and depression the sufferer finds it difficult to focus on the task at hand, and to keep a clear head. You might notice that they have trouble finding the words when they speak, or that they seem to “be in a different world” as they stare off into space at times.
Memory lapses – Although memory problems are more connected with dementias like Alzheimer’s disease, they can occur with depression as well. Depression may be more of an “emotional problem,” but it still affects the brain’s ability to work correctly.
Moodiness – Both dementia and depression can cause big mood swings, but the reasons behind them may differ. If a person is suffering from dementia, their personality may change as the condition worsens. If they are suffering from depression, they may become moody for other reasons, such as they don’t know why they are always suffering from aches and pains, or because they can’t control their feelings, or because they feel that no one understands what they are going through.
Language and thinking – While people who suffer from depression might not reason or speak as much as they used to simply because their emotions make them want to resist it, they are still able to think, reason, and speak at a normal capacity. Persons with dementia, on the other hand, see a steady decline in their ability to both reason and speak that is not due to a lack of will.
Positives and Negatives – People who suffer from dementia will often try to act upbeat in order to cover up problems they are having, such as memory loss. People with depression will usually mope around, feeling negatively about everything. Even if they try to cover this up and “act happy,” it is usually clear that it is a front.
Behavior – This last difference requires really knowing your aging loved one, so that you can know if their behavior is different. Usually, if someone is depressed, they mope around or seem sad, like we mentioned above. It might seem like a struggle for them to interact with people. Dementia, though, will be a different kind of struggle. Depression sufferers don’t really “feel” like interacting, people with dementia feel like they can’t interact, because they just can’t keep up due to the deterioration happening in their brains.
If you or your elder care aide notice any of these signs in the elder you love, try to get them help as soon as possible. Whether it is dementia or depression, it is important to get a diagnosis, so that you can know what to do to help them feel better.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elder Care Services in Walpole MA, or anywhere in Eastern Massachusetts, please call the caring staff at CARE Resolutions – (508) 906-5572.