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Some conditions — such as high blood pressure and diabetes — can be detected only by your doctor or a lab test. When it comes to dementia, it’s often family members who notice the first warning signs.
A new study shows problems with thinking, learning and memory can begin as young as age 45. Knowing what’s normal and what’s not helps you spot red flags in your relatives’ behavior.
Mind the Warning Signs
Just like the rest of your body, the brain changes as we age. Around age 20, brain cells begin to die and to produce fewer of the chemicals they need to work. Later on, these changes can contribute to minor forgetfulness, such as misplacing the car keys.
These normal lapses are different from dementia, which occurs when remaining brain cells are damaged by an injury or disease. Thinking and memory problems that aren’t a normal part of aging include:
If you notice these changes or others that affect your loved one’s daily life, speak up.
Smart Guide to Getting Help
The first step is talking to your loved one’s primary care doctor. He or she may perform tests to determine the root cause of the problem. In some cases, such as when medications are to blame for a foggy memory, the fix may be as simple as changing a prescription.
Some types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, have no cure. However, treatment can slow their progress and make a person’s daily life easier. The earlier dementia is detected, the better treatments such as medications and memory aids will work to preserve brain function.
If you care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, remember to take care of yourself, too. Eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight not only help you cope with stress, they can also reduce your own risk of developing dementia later on.
Find a Doctor Who Specializes In Senior Care
To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego geriatric doctor or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
If you have any additional questions,
send us an email using our secure contact form.
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