Let’s get on the same page: It’s common and normal to forget names or appointments but remember them later. It can be frustrating, but it’s a normal part of getting older. Your skin doesn’t look the same as it did at 25, so you can’t expect your brain to work the same way, either.
Changes to your brain begin in your 20s and continue to compound throughout your life. As you near your 70s, these changes may start becoming more noticeable. And when you start noticing forgetfulness, you may wonder if this is normal or a sign of something more serious.
10 Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
As of this year, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and it takes the lives of more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends focusing on these 10 early warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease. If you notice changes like these yourself or with a loved one, it’s time to schedule a doctor’s appointment.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble with vision or spatial relationships.
- New problems with words, speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and being unable to go back over their steps.
- Decreased or poor judgement.
- Withdrawing from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood or personality.
It’s Never too Late to Start Focusing on Brain Health
Certain genetic risk factors of Alzheimer’s can’t be controlled. But it’s never too late to make changes to your lifestyle and environment when possible. Adopting habits both big and small may help you maintain a healthy mind and body and limit cognitive decline.
A common refrain, to be sure, but it’s true at any age: Get active. Even mild to moderate physical activity increases blood flow to your brain while helping to reduce risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. You can make your physical activity into a social activity, too, for added support and fun.
- Quit smoking. If you’re still a smoker, now is the best time to quit. Smoking tops the list of major risk factors of cognitive decline. It impacts both the nervous and vascular systems, and effects on those systems can speed up memory loss.
- Get moving. Working movement into your every day can make a big difference when it comes to keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol within the healthy range. Walking with a friend, gardening, golfing or even trying out a new dance class — anything to safely elevate your heart rate (and that you’ll continue to do) is a good option.
- Consider updating your diet. Adopting a heart-healthy diet, which limits saturated fat, may help reduce dementia risk. The DASH and Mediterranean diets both focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
Exercise Your Brain
The more you work your brain, the stronger it gets. Stretch yourself by learning a new skill, attending a lecture or signing up for a new course.
- Work out your brain. Try a strategic game like bridge, complete a jigsaw puzzle, learn a new craft to challenge your mind regularly.
- Make quality sleep a priority. Missing out on restorative sleep due to insomnia or sleep apnea may lead to memory issues.
- Lower stress and anxiety. Whether it’s through meditation, journaling, yoga, tai chi or other breathing exercises, reducing stress is good for your mind and heart.
Building social connections through service, hobbies or friendships offers a whole host of benefits, including a reduced rate of depression.
- Volunteer for a cause you care about. Feeling that you’re making a difference has been linked to reduced signs of dementia.
- Join a club. Whether it’s based on a hobby you love or an activity you enjoy, being part of a group with regular meetings provides common ground with new friends.
- Chat with friends and family. Maintaining regular connections with your loved ones in person or virtually offers support, entertainment and love all in one.
How Grand Lodge at the Preserve Supports Our Residents
When residents make a home at Grand Lodge at the Preserve, they receive engaging, research-based health, wellness, spiritual and social programming to support brain health throughout their time here. Not to mention, our on-site restaurants make it easy to eat healthy without even thinking about it! By joining a caring community of residents and team members, we support our residents at every stage of their health journey.
Are you ready to learn more about the care and support we offer here in Lincoln, Nebraska? Contact us today — we’d love to talk with you about life in our midwestern community.