As your mom and dad age, you may notice their mood changes. They become agitated more easily. They’re forgetful. They have a harder time following instructions or doing things they’ve done hundreds of times before.

Anxiety, depression, and dementia can all share some symptoms, but they’re very different from one another. How can you tell them apart?

How Do Anxiety, Depression, and Dementia Differ, and How Are They Alike?

The differences between anxiety, depression, and dementia differ in several ways. Start with anxiety. Someone with anxiety may worry regularly. The level of worry may seem unusual and it often interferes with normal activities. Ignored, anxiety can on physical symptoms like a racing heart rate, difficulty breathing, hyperventilating, dizziness, numbness/tingling in the hands and feet, and chest pain.

Compare those common symptoms to depression. People with depression may also deal with anxiety, but it’s not always the case. Depression usually affects the appetite, creates feelings of guilt, makes it hard to think or concentrate, and causes mood swings and irritability. Depression interferes with sleep. It also makes you lose interest in things you used to love, such as favorite hobbies or going out with friends. Sometimes physical pain manifests as a symptom of depression.

Then, there’s dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Confusion is a symptom, but it doesn’t come all at once. There’s a gradual decline. Dementia doesn’t cause someone to feel guilty. Depression and anxiety may occur as dementia progresses, but it’s not always the case. Physical pain isn’t related to Alzheimer’s. It’s tied to something else like a UTI or stress and tense muscles.

What If You’re Not Sure?

It can be hard to know if your parent’s confusion is related to dementia or depression. When you see any signs that make you wary, call the family doctor. Ask questions and get answers. If you’re not convinced, you can ask for a second opinion.

If it is dementia, treatments can help slow the progression of the different symptoms. If it’s depression or anxiety, there are medications or therapeutic treatments that help reduce the severity and symptoms.

Whether your mom and dad are dealing with anxiety, depression, or dementia, support is essential. All three can impact the ability to take care of yourself properly. With senior care services, your parents have companionship and assistance. Call a senior care agency to discuss how caregivers can help when mental abilities decline or mental health is impacted.

If you or an aging loved one is considering senior care in San Ramon, CA, please contact the caring staff at Golden Heart Senior Care of Walnut Creek. (925) 203-3039.