Dementia is a collection of symptoms including memory loss, personality change, and impaired intellectual functions resulting from disease or trauma to the brain. These changes are not part of normal aging and are severe enough to impact daily living, independence, and relationships.
Many people have memory loss issues — this does not necessarily mean they have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. According to ALZ.org, while symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
According to Dr. Rebecca Amariglio with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Abnormal Aging includes signs such as:
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings
- Having difficulty remembering important details or recent events
- Having difficulty following the plot of a television program or book because of memory
- Memory changes that are worse than others of the same age
There are strategies to improve clarity and keep your brain functioning at its optimal level. Just as we use healthy eating and exercise to keep our bodies at tip-top shape, the same goes for our brains.
- Exercise consistently
- Eat a brain-healthy diet
- Challenge your mind
- Get regular and restful sleep
- Minimize stress
- Avoid smoking and limit drinking
Take an active approach if you suspect a love one may be suffering from dementia.
- Report their symptoms to their doctor as soon as possible and schedule regular follow-up visits.
- Keep a list of their symptoms and concerns, and ask other family members and friends for their observations. Write down specific information about the frequency, nature, and setting of their memory, cognitive, or behavior concerns.
- Take charge by learning as much about dementia as you can. Knowing what to expect will help your loved one plan, adjust, and live life as fully as possible.