Southern California

Over time, many of us will begin to display memory problems. If your loved ones are beginning to display them, it is important to determine whether or not this is only mild cognitive aging or the beginning of Alzheimer’s. You may be wondering, why is this so important? 

Cognitive Aging and Alzheimer’s

A person with only a mild cognitive impairment will continue to function somewhat normally as they age. However, they may struggle to remember words or names as readily as they used to. Though, this is not a progressive ailment that will need radical lifestyle changes.

Alzheimer’s, however, is not a natural part of aging. It is a disease that is a form of dementia. It affects at least two of the four domains of cognitive function. These domains are:

  • Language
  • The ability to reason and plan abstractly
  • Memory (the most impacted domain)
  • The ability to do complex motor tasks

If your parent is struggling with only mild cognitive impairment, over a three-to-five-year period, there is a 50% chance they will remain at the same level or slightly improve with changes. Though, this means that there is also a 50% chance they will continue to decline as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia progresses.

So, how do you tell the difference? With Alzheimer’s, nerve cells within the brain die. However, with normal cognitive aging, those nerve cells just don’t work as well as they used to. 

Once you are able to receive a diagnosis, you can determine your course of action. This can be financial planning, hospice or palliative care planning, or legal matters. Whether it is Alzheimer’s or simply mild cognitive impairment, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help keep almost anyone in better mental and physical shape.

Here are some lifestyle changes that may work:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Stay physically active
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t consume alcohol
  • Keep socially and intellectually active
  • Take DHS omega-3 fatty acids
  • Carefully monitor medications

The Bottom Line

Cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s can both be scary at times. It is never easy watching your loved ones lose parts of themselves as well as any memory of you. While many people say that Alzheimer’s cannot be diagnosed, there are ways to identify it that can be very conclusive.

As long as you know how to deal with both cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s, you can keep your loved ones in as good a condition as possible.