Signs of Dementia Versus Mental Health Changes

With a greater awareness nowadays of mental health, it’s interesting to know that the symptoms of dementia can mirror the signs of mental health changes. Because of this, it may be hard sometimes to know if your senior loved one is actually experiencing dementia/Alzheimer’s disease or has a mental health problem that needs to be addressed. 

Here’s more information on the signs and symptoms of dementia versus a mental health problem—and how to tell the difference between the two.

Signs and Symptoms of Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

FYI, Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are not the same thing. Dementia is a broader term that includes several conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia. However, for the purposes of this article, we will include their signs and symptoms together:

  • Memory loss that interferes with your everyday tasks
  • Problems performing tasks that you normally perform
  • Having poor judgment. This may include things like wearing a heavy jacket on a hot day (not because you’re cold) or not realizing when you have a medical problem that needs attention, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
  • Not having a good sense of time or space.
  • Mood swings
  • Personality changes. For instance, a once-outgoing person may become withdrawn.
  • A lack of desire to do tasks that you once enjoyed

Common Signs of Mental Health Problems in Older Adults

While signs of mental health problems in older adults (or adults in general) will vary depending on the situation, the following are a few of the more common signs:

  • Memory loss
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Confusion
  • Changes in appearance, such as not keeping up with basic hygiene or not wearing clean clothes
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in energy levels
  • Problems managing money

As you can see by these lists, there’s a definite overlap between signs of dementia versus a potential mental health problems in older adults. So, what’s the best approach? Set an appointment with a trusted health provider who can help figure out the issue. Whether your senior loved one has new-onset dementia, a mental health problem like depression, or something else entirely, you can begin the proper treatment once you know the diagnosis.

Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Care Management

At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at

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