Who hasn’t forgotten the name of an old friend, where they put their keys or why they went into a room for something? I know I have. And it does make you stop and wonder—am I losing my memory? As we get older, our memory does slow down a bit naturally. But that does not signal that Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia are taking root. I am writing this article because I have seen the impact that dementia has on people that you love. When my Dad looked at me and asked who I was, it was awful.
When my Mom kept asking what day it was over and over, it required tremendous patience to soothe her. These were two incredibly smart, wonderful people. I am committed to doing all I can to protect my brain, and to help others to do so as well. Based on research, there are things we all can do to reduce the risks of getting these debilitating and devastating symptoms and diseases of the brain.
First, let’s provide some clarity of definition on the two from the Alzheimer’s Association:
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease. Dementia is not. Importantly, Dementia and Alzheimer’s are not normal parts of aging.
Signs of dementia can vary greatly. Examples include:
- Problems with short-term memory.
- Keeping track of a purse or wallet.
- Paying bills.
- Planning and preparing meals.
- Remembering appointments.
- Traveling out of the neighborhood.
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally, thinking, behavior and feelings can be affected. Many conditions are progressive, which means that the signs of dementia start out slowly and gradually get worse.
In Alzheimer’s disease, high levels of certain proteins develop inside and outside brain cells and make it hard for brain cells to stay healthy and to communicate with each other. The brain region called the hippocampus is the center of learning and memory in the brain, and the brain cells in this region are often the first to be damaged. That’s why memory loss is often one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Let’s compare normal signs of aging with sign of Alzheimer’s and Dementia:
What are the Risk Factors and How to Reduce them?
According to The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind by Dr. Timothy R. Jennings, (available on Amazon) there are several risk factors that exacerbate the potential to get Alzheimer’s and Dementia. His book goes into much detail about what can cause the dangerous proteins to develop and damage our brain cells. Fortunately, Dr. Jennings cites lifestyle choices can help keep our brains sharp. Let’s get specific: