Hurricane Ian Monday 5pm Update: The Hurricane Ian 5pm update came with some pretty big changes. Starting with the strength. Ian is now a 100 mph hurricane as it closes…

Ever walk into a room and wonder why you entered it? And has anyone seen your reading glasses? Let’s not even discuss why the television remote entered the witness protection program.

It’s natural, these moments of forgetfulness. “Senior moments,” they’re called. But you don’t have to be a senior to experience temporary memory loss. They affect people of all ages (just ask a teenager why they keep forgetting to clean their room). But seriously, Dr. Jon Brillman, a professor of neurology and board-certified neurologist with Lee Physician Group, explains what happens to our brains as we age and how to develop healthy brain habits.

  • Q: I’ve become more forgetful as I’ve gotten older. Does that mean I’m developing dementia?

    A: Memory loss is a normal curse of aging for everyone. Many older adults worry about their memory and other thinking abilities, so you’re not alone. But mild forgetfulness — forgetting to pay a bill or taking longer to learn new things – is a normal part of aging and not an indication of serious memory problems in most people.

  • Q: How do I know when my memory lapses indicate a more serious problem, such as the onset of dementia like Alzheimer’s?

    A: More serious memory problems interfere with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as driving, using the phone, and finding your way home. Talk with your doctor to determine whether memory and other cognitive problems, such as the ability to clearly think and learn, are normal and what may be causing them.

  • Q: My family has a history of Alzheimer’s. Does that mean I’m going to get it?

    A: A family history of Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean for sure that you’ll have it. But, it may mean you are more likely to develop it. Genes are passed down from your birth parents, so your risk of developing the disease may be higher if you have certain genes. Research indicates that in the general population, only about 5 percent inherit Alzheimer’s

  • Q: What is dementia?

    A: Dementia isn’t a normal part of aging. It includes the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, learning, and reasoning — and behavioral abilities to the extent that it interferes with a person’s quality of life and activities (ADLs).

    Memory loss, though common, is not the only sign of dementia. People with dementia may also have problems with language skills, visual perception, or paying attention. Some people have personality changes. While there are different forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form in people over age 65.

  • Q: What are the signs and symptoms of dementia?

    Signs and symptoms of dementia occur when once-healthy neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. Everyone loses some neurons as they age, but people with dementia experience far greater loss.

    Signs that it might be time to talk to a doctor include:

    · Asking the same questions over and over again

    · Getting lost in places a person knows well

    · Having trouble following recipes or directions

    · Becoming more confused about time, people, and places

    · Not taking care of oneself —eating poorly, not bathing, or behaving unsafely

    People with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also develop dementia as they age, and recognizing their symptoms can be particularly difficult. It’s important to consider a person’s current abilities and to monitor for changes over time that could signal dementia.

  • Q: What are the different types of dementia, and what causes them?

    A: As with any other organ, the kidneys, the heart, our brains begin to wear out with advanced age. The causes of Alzheimer’s and related dementias can vary, depending on the types of brain changes that may be taking place.

    The five most common forms of dementia are:

    · Alzheimer’s disease is the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It’s is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

    · Frontotemporal dementia is a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It’s associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.

    · Lewy body dementia is a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.

    · Vascular dementia is a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

    · Mixed dementia is a combination of two or more types of dementia.

  • Q: Do any of these dementias have a cure?

    A: There’s no proven prevention for any of these diseases. The biggest risk factor is aging, and you can’t prevent that. You can’t alter family history and genetics, either.

    Lifestyle choices, such as eating well and exercising, are associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. I subscribe to the “use it or lose it” approach to keeping your brain healthy. Your brain is like a muscle—use it or lose it.

    1. Stay mentally active. Research suggests that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells. You can do many things to keep your brain in shape, such as doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku, reading, playing cards or putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

    2. Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity benefits the brain. Research shows that people who remain physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Try to exercise several times per week for 30–60

    minutes. Walk, swim, play tennis or do any other moderate aerobic activity that increases your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain.

    3. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep plays an important role in your brain health. There are some theories that sleep may help clear abnormal proteins in your brain and consolidates memories, which boosts your overall memory and brain health. Try for seven-to-eight consecutive hours of sleep each night. Research indicates sleep obstructive sleep apnea and stress can impair memory. Sleep apnea harms your brain’s health and maybe a reason why you may struggle for long stretches of uninterrupted sleep. Talk with your doctor if you or a family member suspects you have sleep apnea.

    4. Improve your diet. Consider following a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, fish and healthy fats, such as olive oil. It incorporates much less red meat and salt than a typical American diet. There’s research to suggest that people who follow a diet like the Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop cognitive impairment and dementia.

    5. Stay social. Social interaction helps keep away depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss. Connect with loved ones, friends and others, especially if you live alone. There is research that links solitary confinement to brain atrophy, so remaining socially active may have the opposite effect and strengthen the health of your brain.

    Here’s more on how to flex your brain muscles