It’s perfectly normal to forget things sometimes.
Just about everyone has experienced going out of the house only to head back a minute later for the car keys.
Even more common is forgetting what you meant to say to someone mere seconds after thinking about it.
However, for those getting on in years, forgetfulness is something to be wary of, especially when it happens frequently.
Seniors who all-too-often forget the simplest things could signify that they are already experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Signs of MCI In Seniors
Make no mistake about it: As we age, our cognitive skills will also decline.
However, we should not let that knowledge make us and our senior loved ones complacent about our cognitive skills.
For all we know, the concentrating, remembering, and learning difficulties our seniors are experiencing are already signs of MCI, which is a step beyond the expected cognitive decline that comes with normal aging.
The warning signs of mild cognitive impairment may include:
- Frequent forgetfulness
- Mood swings
- Being unfamiliar with supposedly familiar environments
- Difficulty recognizing familiar faces
- Problems recalling where they put things
- Behavioral changes
- Exercising poor judgment
- Struggling with mental tasks
- Losing train of thought
- Trouble remembering and keeping appointments and social engagements
Seniors who are experiencing MCI may also suffer from bouts of depression and anxiety and will likely be more irritable, aggressive, and apathetic than usual.
The symptoms mentioned above are easily noticeable, especially for those in close contact with their senior loved ones. Once you notice them in your parents or grandparents, bring them in for a medical workup for MCI as soon as you can.
Slowing Down Cognitive Decline in Seniors
Fortunately, it’s never too late to take steps to slow down cognitive decline among seniors. Some of the things seniors can do to keep their cognitive functions healthy include:
- Getting regular physical exercise—Taking walks, doing water aerobics, chair yoga, and even dumbbell strength training don’t just keep our elderly loved ones happy. Physical activity also has stress-busting benefits. By keeping stress away, our seniors won’t have to deal with too much cortisol, the stress hormone that gradually damages the brain and impairs cognitive functions.
- Eating brain food—Seniors need to eat more vitamin E-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts, as they help keep neurons from degenerating. Foods with high levels of vitamin E also enhance memory function. Oily fish such as salmon are also loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which help slow down memory decline and are generally beneficial for the brain.
- Participating in mentally-stimulating activities—The more active our senior’s brain is, the lower the chance of developing severe cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s. So, get your elderly loved one to join trivia games, play chess, answer word puzzles, enjoy board games, or simply do a lot of reading to keep their brains sharp as ever.
- Socializing—Seniors who live alone may be prone to bouts of loneliness, even depression, which will profoundly impact their mental well-being. Visit them more frequently, or get them to go out more and talk to friends.
Those who reside in assisted living communities often enjoy a healthier level of socialization, as they interact with people their age on a daily basis. They can also mingle and relate with younger generations if they live in an assisted living community that offers intergenerational programs.
Cognitive issues may be inevitable, but you and your senior loved one can work together to keep them at bay for as long as you can.
About the Author
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.
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