But some amount of intellectual decline is normal in old age, isn’t it? Just how does dementia differ from normal aging?
It is true that many older people experience a minor degree of forgetfulness (known as benign senescent forgetfulness) as well as a slowing of physical and mental agility. In fact, the term senile, which many people use to mean ”forgetful,” is actually defined as “relating to old age.”
But the forgetfulness and mental slowing that occur with age generally do not interfere with daily life; they are not disabling. Dementia, by definition, involves intellectual declines or losses severe enough to interfere with daily activities. That said, however, there is some debate among Alzheimer’s researchers about whether or not Alzheimer’s disease will eventually affect everyone if he or she lives long enough.