As we grow older, our brains start to change and we may start to see changes in our memory, speech, mood, or problem-solving skills. Some of those changes are normal while some are not. Dementia is not considered a normal part of aging; thus, it is important to be aware of any changes that are not age appropriate. With the help of Alzheimer’s Association (Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia), we have come up with the top 10 early warning signs of dementia. If you feel you may be experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor for a referral to see our Speech Language Pathologists who can help screen, assess, diagnose, and treat dementia:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty planning or solving problems
- Difficulty doing familiar tasks
- Being confused about time of place
- Difficulty understanding visual or spatial images
- New problems with words while speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased judgement abilities
- Withdrawing from work and social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
If you are not experiencing any of these symptoms and wish to know how to delay the onset of dementia in your life, it would be good to start implementing some of these strategies that keep the brain active and healthy:
- Learn about something brand new: pick up another language, read a book about topic you’ve never heard about, or start playing brain games, or take piano lessons. This will keep the brain firing on all levels and allow your mind to stay active.
- Practice good sleep hygiene: no electronics 2 hours before bed, 8hrs/night, limiting naps to 20 minutes, getting screened for sleep apnea, and establishing a sleep schedule. All of this will help you get quality rest and allow the brain sufficient time to process, organize, and make new connections.
- Stay socially engaged: volunteering, getting involved in an exercise or walking club, or joining a game night group will help keep the brain engaging in a communication that is fresh and non-stagnant.
- Eat a health and balanced diet: there are a lot of research that shows that eating a diet full leafy greens, nuts, grains, and fruit can help supply the brain with the nutrients it needs to stay functioning healthfully.
- Take care of your mental health: anxiety and depression are a normal part of life that can be managed and improved with the help of medical professionals. It’s always good to learn new ways to help cope healthfully with stress and sadness.