So you’ve noticed some changes in your thinking; you oft en misplace your keys or have trouble coming up with the right word in conversations. But how do you know when these changes are a normal part of getting older or if they might be pointing to a health problem such as dementia?

HOW THE BRAIN TYPICALLY AGES

Your brain’s volume gradually shrinks as you get older. When this occurs, some of the nerve cells in your brain can shrink or lose connections with other nerve cells. Blood fl ow within your brain slows somewhat in old age, as well. These age-related changes are thought to be behind the differences in cognitive function many people notice as they age. Everyone has lapses in memory from time to time, but significant memory loss is not a normal part of old age. It’s important to talk with your doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss and other cognitive symptoms that interfere with normal activities and relationships.

  1. Control cholesterol problems and high blood pressure. These conditions can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke, which are thought to contribute to the development of certain types of dementia.
  2. Control cholesterol problems and high blood pressure. These conditions can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke, which are thought to contribute to the development of certain types of dementia.
  3. Cardiovascular health — having healthy blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, along with being physically active, eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking — was associated with better cognitive function in a 2014 study published in PLoS One.
  4. Don’t smoke or drink excessively. Because these are both seen as putting you at increased risk for dementia, kick the habit if you smoke and, if you drink, do so only in moderation.
  5. Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity is thought to help maintain blood fl ow to the brain and reduce your risk for conditions such as high blood pressure that are associated with the development of dementia.
  6. Eat a healthy diet. People who consume plenty of vegetables and fatty fi sh and keep away from saturated fats are thought to have a lower risk for cognitive decline.
  7. Stimulate your brain. Keep your mind active by increasing your level of social interaction, learning new skills, playing challenging games, and doing other activities that require an engaged mind.

 

 

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