Dyslexia, Reading Problems

Mental Aging: Adults & Seniors

Definition

Cognitive aging is not a disease.  It occurs to everyone as they go through their lifespan.  The process is very variable and differs from individual to individual.  It depends on many factors such as genetics, overall health, lifestyle, exercise, social activity, type of work and duration of work, medications and others.  It is not only about forgetting things and decreasing memory.  Cognitive changes are gradual and variable and could impact several cognitive skills.  Most commonly are working memory, short and long term memory, attention, processing speed, problem solving and decision making skills.  For more detailed information on how cognitive skills are affected by age, press here.  Cognitive decline may begin as early as in our thirties but accelerate as we grow older.  

Mental Aging.jpg

Diagnosing

There are some diagnoses such as Alzheimer's, dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) that need to be conducted by a healthcare professional.  

In general, the diagnosis of MCI requires objective evidence of cognitive difficulties that is beyond what would be considered normal, but not bad enough to qualify as dementia and is also different from Alzheimer's. In MCI, cognitive testing should reveal that a person does worse than expected for his/her age and level of education. But the person should still be able to manage daily life tasks.

BrainRx provides a professional cognitive skills evaluation to pinpoint the exact cause of memory problems as well as other cognitive skills that might have deteriorated such as speed and attention. The tests measure all cognitive skills - including memory, processing speed, visual and auditory processing, logic and reasoning, and attention.

Symptoms 

Younger to mid-age adults may feel that their processing speed, attention, and memory are not the same.  Now a days, adults decide to take additional courses be it to change careers, to revalidate a licensed profession, for continuous education or to expand their knowledge.  Many feel they no longer can focus, study, or lean like when they were younger.  Our cognitive decline can start as early as in our thirties.  Additional symptoms can include:

  • Struggle  remembering things like where keys were placed, names, appointments, or words (tip of the tongue), and small details but remembering them later

  • Misplacing things but retracting steps to be able to find them later

  • Difficulty with divided or selective attention - gets distracted easier than before, cannot multi-task as smooth as before

  • Generally slower in performing tasks

  • Problem solving, planning and reasoning is tougher

  • Occasional errors when managing finances

  • Becoming irritable specially when taken out of a routine

  • Having a harder time at studying, learning and retaining information than when younger

  • Feeling as slower or less productive in the work environment

10 Signs of Early Alzheimer's

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks

  4. Confusion with time or place

  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships causing difficulty with maintaining balance, reading, judging distances, color or contrast, driving

  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing leading to difficulties keeping up with a conversation, getting lost in words, confusing words

  7. Decreased or poor judgment leading to poor grooming, keeping clean, managing money and making decisions

  8. Withdrawal from work or social activities even hobbies

  9. Changes in mood and personality - They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends or when out of their comfort zone.

  10. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

Dementia

"A person having dementia means that all five of the following statements are true:

  • A person is having difficulty with one or more types of mental function. Although it’s common for memory to be affected, other parts of thinking function can be impaired. The 2013 DSM-5 manual lists these six types of cognitive function to consider: learning and memory, language, executive function, complex attention, perceptual-motor function, social cognition.

  • The difficulties are a decline from the person’s prior level of ability. 

  • The problems are bad enough to impair daily life function.   The problems also have to be substantial enough to affect how the person manages usual life, such as work and family responsibilities.

  • The problems are not due to a reversible condition, such as delirium, or another reversible illness. Common conditions that can cause — or worsen — dementia-like symptoms include hypothyroidism, depression, and medication side-effects.

  • The problems aren’t better accounted for by another mental disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia." - Kernisan, Leslie, MD, Better Health While Aging

 

 

Mild Cognitive Impairment

"Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) means having cognitive abilities (memory and thinking skills) that have become worse than “normal” for your age. However, the impairments can’t be bad enough to meet the criteria for dementia." - Kernisan, Leslie, MD, Better Health While Aging

Treatment

  • Professional neurological exam to rule out Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder or brain damage.

  • Professional neurological exam to confirm or rule out dementia, Alzheimer’s, or MCI.

  • If diagnosed, follow proper medication as per professional's recommendations.

  • Proper nutrition includes complex carbohydrates, fiber, and “good” fats to help maintain glucose levels in the brain.  Supplementing with Omegas is also very good for the brain.

  • Certain activities can increase the number of connections between brain cells, strengthening memory. Trivia, crosswords and memory games are all good choices.

  • Exercise has been found to reduce brain cell loss, reduce risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better.

  • Getting the proper amount of sleep is known to optimize mental functioning.

  • Quit smoking.

  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure and sugar levels as well as  a healthy weight.

  •  Wear helmets when riding bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds, horses, etc., and when playing contact sports like football or rugby.

  • Stay engaged and socially active.

  • Cognitive skills training attacks the root causes of cognitive skills decline by strengthening those skills that are now weaker than before.

  • Cognitive skills training treats the causes of learning struggles to help adults excel in school, sports, the workplace, and extracurricular activities (like sports, music, art, and dance).

At IQRx, while we do not provide diagnoses, the fact is that many of our students come to us with previous diagnoses.  We help young, mid-aged and senior adults with these issues because we address the cognitive deficits that are commonly linked to the diagnosis or typical mental aging. In fact, our brain training programs strengthen all critical cognitive skills, which is why adults with different diagnoses who go through our program, experience such significant improvements in school, work, and life.

Helpful Resources

The Alzheimer’s Association
http://alz.org


National Institute of Mental Health
http://nimh.nih.gov

Better Health While Aging

https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/

Cognitive Aging Guide

https://www.nap.edu/resource/21693/Action-Guide-for-Individuals-and-Families_V3.pdf

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/dementia-not-normal-aging.html

BrainRx training was beneficial to understand who I am, my areas of strength and weakness. It was good to work with others on the exercises. It was worth the commitment. I feel it has helped me focus on areas of weakness that I can continue to work on, to improve and have a more fulfilled life.

- Caroline S.

Brain Training Results

brainrx-leave-behind-sheet_no-bleeds_Page_15.jpg