Aging vs Alzheimer's: 7 Warning Signs

Signs of Alzheimer's or Aging?

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and is the most common cause of memory loss, or dementia, in older adults. More than 5 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s and is the 6th leading cause of death for Americans, meaning 1 in 3 seniors will die of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. As you age, it’s normal for your brain to slow down. But how do you know when something is not normal? Dr. Shaveta Manchanda with Mercy Clinic Neurology in Springfield MO shares 7 red flags for identifying Alzheimer’s, as well as tips on how to help keep your brain sharp.

7 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are FDA-approved medications that can slow down the progression of symptoms for some people. Don’t delay talking to your doctor. The sooner your neurologist is able to diagnose the disease, the better. Below are 7 signs of Alzheimer's versus signs of aging.

  Normal Aging Signs of Dementia
1 Misplacing your keys or glasses occasionally and retracing your steps to find them. Misplacing your keys or glasses in a strange place such as the refrigerator.
2 Occasionally becoming mixed up with exact times and dates but can recall them later. Forgetting what the days of the week are.  Not knowing the difference between day and night.
3 Making small mistakes in your checkbook and finding them later. Extreme difficulty working with numbers and paying bills.
4 Mild difficulty recalling names and words then remembering them later. Avoiding social interaction. Unable to carry on a conversation.
5 Feeling blue occasionally. Feeling anxious, depressed, or agitated regularly.
6 Having the need for reading glasses. Difficulty reading (even with glasses) or telling the difference between colors.
7 Occasionally forgetting a friend's birthday or an appointment time and then remembering later. Losing track of seasons, dates, times, big holidays, and important events.

6 Activities to Keep Your Brain Healthy

While spotting signs of Alzheimer's early is critical, there are several steps you can take to keep your brain healthy and active and possibly avoid dementia.

1. Do mental exercises.

Crossword puzzles, word searches, taking up a new hobby, etc. Maybe it’s time to register for a class at your local community college. Whatever it is, just keep challenging yourself!

2. Feel the beat.

Research shows music can be helpful in preventing dementia.

3. Eat healthily.

Incorporate more vegetables, berries and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts) on your plate. Dr. Manchanda recommends following the Mediterranean Diet.

4. Get physical.

Try a ballroom dancing class, swimming laps, yoga, lightweight training or even walking through the neighborhood. The goal is to get your heart pumping, which increases blood and oxygen flow in your brain.

5. Stay social.

Social isolation is a risk factor for dementia, so keep your event calendar full of activity with friends and family.

6. Get good, uninterrupted sleep.

While you’re snoozing, your brain strengthens memories you’ve made during the day. Studies have shown lack of deep sleep can contribute to memory impairment.

Talk to your Mercy neurologist if you are worried you, or your loved one has potential signs of Alzheimer’s. Experiencing memory loss can be frightening, but Mercy is here every step of the way. We’ll help you maintain your independence as long as possible.