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9 Ways to Know if You're at Risk for Dementia

Memory is the fabric of our souls. It houses our joys, our hurts, and all of life’s lessons. It enables us to recall the important events in our lives. Memory also provides us with a sense of purpose that gives our lives meaning.

Our memory is so integral to who we are that it’s easy to take it for granted. But when our memory is damaged, the costs can be high. A deteriorating memory can rob us of our ability to make good decisions and disconnect us from those we love. Memory problems limit our success at work and steal our independence. When memory risk factors like high stress, lack of sleep, and an unhealthy diet aren’t addressed, it can lead to memory loss and symptoms dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia—estimated to account for 60 to 80 percent of cases. However, other forms of dementia also create serious problems. They include:

Vascular dementia – the second most common type of dementia, vascular dementia typically occurs as a result of one or more strokes that have created blockages to the brain’s blood vessels.

Lewy body dementia – refers to both Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, abnormal protein deposits that disrupt the brain’s normal functioning.

Frontotemporal lobe dementia – is precipitated by progressive nerve cell loss in the frontal or temporal lobes, stemming from various uncommon disorders that cause the affected lobes to atrophy.

Though there are different forms of dementia, many of their symptoms are the same. Here are 9 early warning signs of dementia:

1. Difficulty performing familiar tasks

People can get distracted and sometimes forget an ingredient when they’re cooking. A person with early warning signs of dementia may have trouble remembering all the ingredients and even how to cook their favorite dish.

2. Problems with words and language

People can stumble over words sometimes. That’s natural. But someone with early warning signs of dementia may completely forget an obvious word, use an inappropriate word, and may even be difficult to understand. They may also have trouble understanding you.

3. Disorientation of time and place

Someone with early symptoms of dementia may have trouble remembering how to get to a familiar place or forget where they are.

4. Decreased judgment

Someone with early warning signs of dementia may start neglecting their hygiene and grooming. He or she may have used to style their hair, and now you rarely see them put together, not even for special occasions.

5. Gradual memory loss

It’s normal to occasionally forget an appointment. But someone with early warning signs of dementia will completely forget appointments more often than normal and totally forget what they are for.

6. Misplacing things

Everyone misplaces their keys and phone sometimes. A person with early warning signs of dementia may leave them in unusual places and may even become suspicious and accuse someone else of hiding or stealing their things.

7. Problems with abstract thinking

Sometimes people forget to pay a bill. Hopefully, that’s a rare occurrence. A person with early warning signs of dementia may have difficulty handling money, paying bills, and even understanding what the numbers mean.

8. Personality changes

Everyone can be moody at times. A person with early warning signs of dementia may have more intense mood swings, more often.

9. Loss of initiative, apathy

It’s natural for people to sometimes not want to be social. A person with early warning signs of dementia may lose interest in social activities and hobbies. They may become more isolated and withdrawn.

Did you know that in spite of the natural aging process, you actually have a choice in how fast your brain ages? Your behavior and habits can speed up or slow down the rate at which your brain declines with age. Being mentally and physically active, eating nutritious foods and avoiding unhealthy habits can help you maintain optimal brain health and ward off dementia.

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