Doctors have outlined three major stages of brain aging.
Normal aging is when people experience common lapses like forgetting names or misplacing keys.
It tends to be stable, but if it does progress a patient may well develop what’s called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). People with MCI take more time to compensate for their more serious memory challenges.
If and when that compensation breaks down, a person can develop dementia, a memory decline that interferes with his or her independence.
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. But medication side effects, depression, and other reversible conditions can cause dementia as well, so it’s important to see a doctor if you are concerned about memory loss.
Even if a person does have Alzheimer’s, there are several effective treatments for the disease, including drugs that can temporarily stabilize symptoms.
Currently, researchers are aggressively trying to find a disease-modifying treatment that will actually slow or prevent the disease’s progression. Emerging treatments for Alzheimer’s include:
• Focused ultrasound (which can jump-start the brain’s memory centers
• Insulin-nasal spray (people with diabetes have an increased risk for Alzheimer’s)
Unfortunately, doctors don’t yet have a magic bullet to deal with brain aging. But while we wait for science to catch up, there are several effective lifestyle strategies you can use to help age well.
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