Parenting Upward

Dementia or Depression- Recognizing the different symptoms in seniors

dementia and depression may look similar

Ddementia or depression? Do you know the differences?

Dementia or depression? Both ailments that are often associate with getting older, but neither is a certainty. It is possible to age without experiencing either dementia or depression, but one or both is often seen in ones senior years.

There have been tremendous gains in the treatment and outcomes of dementia and depression when recognized and treated. The challenge for caregivers is that their symptoms can be easily confused.

They may share the symptoms of:

  • memory problems
  • sluggish speech and movements
  • low motivation
  • isolation
  • sleeping too much or too little

However, they each have some unique identifying symptoms and presentations.

A person with dementia may:

  • Appear confused or disoriented
  • Have difficulty with short term memory

A person with depression may:

  • Have difficulty concentrating, not care to concentrate

A person with dementia may:

  • Have physical difficulty with speech and motor skills.

A person with depression:

  • May be slow to speak or do things

A person with dementia:

  • May not notice or recognize memory problems

A person with depression:

  • May worry obsessively about memory problems


No matter if  your loved one is suffering from depression or dementia, it is important to notify your loved ones doctor. Early treatment is key with both to regaining some quality of life for your loved one. If it is depression, then with treatment, they may completely recover their normal functioning and ability. If it is dementia then the process may be slowed or halted with new treatments for certain types of dementia.

If you suspect depression, take a look at last weeks article  How you can help overcome senior depression, for some holistic ways you can help your parent or loved one.

If you suspect dementia, then medical intervention is the next step. In either case, it can be helpful to make a careful record of the reasons and evidence and present it to your loved ones doctor so they can work with you toward diagnoses and treatment.