June is Cognitive Awareness Month. Please pass on this information to those you love.
47 million people live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias worldwide; without a change, these numbers are expected to grow to 76 million by 2030. However, everyone can take action to end this epidemic.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, here are 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease:
1. MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY LIFE: One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same questions repeatedly, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
2. CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS: Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
3. DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS: People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
4. CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE: People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
5. TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS: For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. They may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.
6. NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING: People living with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue, or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object, or use the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
7. MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS: A person living with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. He or she may accuse others of stealing, especially as the disease progresses.
8. DECREASED OR POOR JUDGEMENT: Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
9. WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES: Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
10. CHANGES IN MOOD AND PERSONALITY: Individuals living with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone.
There is growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline. The Alzheimer’s Association and its experts have shared a few tips that may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline:
1. EXERCISE: Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise elevates the heart rate, increases blood flow to the brain and body, and can promote brain plasticity.
2. QUIT SMOKING: Evidence shows that smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
3. PROTECT YOUR HEAD: Brain injury can raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Simple actions like wearing a seat belt, using a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and taking steps to prevent falls can all help to reduce the risk of brain injury.
4. GET GOOD SLEEP: Not getting enough sleep due to insomnia, sleep apnea, or other conditions may result in problems with memory and thinking.
5. STAY SOCIAL: Staying engaged socially may support brain health. Pursuing social activities that are meaningful to you and finding ways to be part of your local community can be beneficial to cognitive function.
6. CHALLENGE YOURSELF: Challenge and activate your mind by building a piece of furniture, completing a jigsaw puzzle, doing something artistic, or playing games, such as bridge or chess, that make you think strategically.
7. EDUCATION IS NEVERENDING: Formal education in any stage of life can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, taking a class at a local college, community center, or online can have multiple benefits.
8. HEART HEALTH MATTERS: Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain can benefit as well.
9. NUTRITION IS ESSENTIAL: Eating a healthy and balanced diet higher in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
10. MENTAL HEALTH MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Some studies link a history of depression with an increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
If you or anyone you love has concerns about brain health, please reach out. New testing is available that can be a game changer in stopping cognitive decline. Taking proactive measures early is the key to maintaining a healthy brain. Please give us a call if you’d like to know more.