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WHAT ARE THE SECRETS TO AGING WELL?

A major key to aging well is exercise of some type, not necessarily a gym, but housework or gardening for at least 45 mins a majority days of the week can be of benefit. New studies suggest adults that are not socially isolated – those with family or friends close by or other meaningful relationships like children, grandchildren etc. tend to do better than older adults who are socially isolated.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT CAN AFFECT YOUR ABILITY TO AGE WELL?

Adults with chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension, those who smoke or are morbidly obese BMI (Body Mass index) over 35.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND DEMENTIA?

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia and the most common kind in the United States. However, dementia can be caused by vascular reasons (e.g. stroke) or Parkinson-related dementia.

HOW CAN YOU DETERMINE DEMENTIA FROM NORMAL AGING AND FORGETFULNESS?

Dementia must involve both memory and decline in function. Examples would be impaired memory (repetitive questions, getting lost while driving etc.) and decline in one’s ability to balance a checkbook or suddenly cannot use electronic device or forgets how to bath or dress oneself.  Normal aging may involve occasional difficulty recalling names, places, etc. but likely with time can remember.

WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF DEMENTIA?

Getting loss while driving to a familiar spot. Love ones or friends noticing in a short time span that someone is asking repetitive questions. Someone who always managed the finances and all of sudden is bouncing checks.

WHEN SHOULD YOU HAVE YOUR LOVED ONE SCREENED FOR DEMENTIA?

If any of the signs above are noted, you should take the patient to primary care doctor or Geriatrician if one is in the area.

WHAT ARE SOME PREVENTATIVE OPTIONS FOR DEMENTIA?

Research studies only show two things that are preventive activities: (1) Exercise majority days of the week, at least 4 days, for at least 30 mins of aerobic resistance training has been shown to be protective. (2) According to one study, learning another language later in life can be protective from dementia.

Dr. Graham answers your aging questions on the next pages:

Can a person with uncontrolled diabetes reverse dementia?

Dementia once diagnosed is not reversible, but controlling ones diabetes is always good for one’s general health.

Does not getting enough sleep contribute to dementia?

Sleep is very important for brain health. I cannot necessarily cite a study that shows a direct link between not enough sleep and Dementia but getting adequate sleep is beneficial to the brain.

Morning, Doc. How early in age can Dementia be detected?

Dementia can be diagnosed as early as in ones 50’s. More common in the Mid 70s-80s.

Is there any research that links certain types of food to dementia?

No specific foods but evidence that a plant based diet can be beneficial for overall health.

My sister is showing signs. So geriatrician is the one to see?

A: If you cannot get your sister to a Geriatrician, a Primary care doctor( Family Medicine /Internal Medicine) could evaluate your sister.

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