Aging and Dementia (Alzheimer’s Society)

Everyone must face the fact that aging is an unavoidable part of life. Just like running water, it does not flow back. Such is life. Like your car slowly breaking down as years pass by. We must prepare for old age.

Michael M. Dasco, M.D., director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at New York’s Goldwater Memorial Hospital  said: “The most important thing is not to let old age hit you suddenly, without notice. You must face the fact that it is coming and that your children, who seem to be so slow about growing up, will one day leave you for families of their own.”

The words aging, dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease is not foreign to anyone anymore. The late President Ronald Reagan suffered for about ten years of such infirmity. There are 50 celebrities who have suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. There’s Charlton Heston, Perry Como and many more.

Dementia is defined as a progressive condition marked by deteriorated cognitive functioning often with emotional apathy — a mental illness that causes someone to be unable to think clearly or to understand what is real and what is not real.

The risk of dementia increases as a person gets older. It is rare in people under age 60 — a nonreversible degenerative brain disease. Nonreversible means the changes in the brain that are causing the dementia cannot be stopped or turned back. There are different types of dementia, the most common is Alzheimer’s disease.

For those in the older age group, memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they aren’t cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia. Of course forgetfulness is a common complaint among older adults. You’re giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name.

As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we’ve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. We’re not as quick as we used to be.

In most cases, if we give ourselves time, the information will come to mind. It’s important to distinguish between what’s normal when it comes to memory loss and when you should be concerned. The first step to staying mentally sharp, as you age is to understand the difference between normal forgetfulness that may be due to stress or other factors and serious memory problems.

In a recent research study at Mayo Clinic, 256 patients age 85 or older were followed for 4 years. Over that time, nearly half of them developed mild dementia. However, the researchers discovered that certain lifestyle factors had a major correlation with the likelihood of developing dementia. Therefore younger people must take a proactive approach to ensuring as healthy and full an older life as one could hope to have.

Stay physically active. Exercise. Walk around the block. Maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system to deliver that energy is critically important.

Keeping muscles fit also matters. In a 2009 study of 900 seniors, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago reported that those who maintained muscle strength were significantly less likely to go on to develop memory impairment or Alzheimer’s. Keep on writing on your PC, email your friends. Do something fun that stretches your creativity and your brain. Staying active on writing, on the Internet, and reading about the latest scientific/political news, — is incredibly helpful.

Avoid depressive mood. It’s better to have hobbies than nothing to do. In many ways, it’s brain is like a muscle. Challenging the brain to learn new things — by reading, taking up a language, doing crossword puzzles, or playing a musical instrument, for example — can help keep the brain and informational processing in top form and may even reshape brain circuitry.

Using your brain’s creativity is a vital component of brain health. Stay connected with friends and family. Living alone and being socially isolated is a risk factor for many healthy problems, including memory loss and mental decline.

Pick up a new hobby. Play cards or do a jigsaw puzzle in your ipad.

Updated: 2015-07-10 — 18:36:37