Lincoln Financial recently hosted a virtual event with Dr. Marc Milstein called “Keeping Your Brain Young: Slow Aging, Boost Productivity and Lower Risk for Dementia.” During this webinar we learned some startling statistics, including that “forty-seven million people have dementia worldwide, and that number is projected to double in the next 20 years.”
We also learned that there are things we can do to increase our brain health – and that the sooner we pay attention to this, the better off we are.
Just like hitting the gym boosts your physical health, exercising your brain is crucial for mental well-being. Engaging in activities that challenge your cognitive abilities can stimulate the growth of new neurons and enhance neural connections.
Fuel Your Brain with the Right Stuff & Stay Social: Just like a car needs the right fuel to run smoothly, your brain requires the right nutrients to function at its best - and it turns out, socializing is not just good for the soul, it's great for the brain too.
Learn Something New: Whether it's picking up a musical instrument, learning a new language, or trying your hand at painting, acquiring new skills challenges your brain and keeps it agile.
Physical Exercise: Believe it or not, what's good for your body is good for your brain. Regular physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
Healthy Diet: A diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins is like a feast for your brain. Include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fatty fish in your meals to provide your brain with the nutrients it craves.
Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can impair your attention and long-term memory. Keep your brain well-hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day.
Quality Time: Spending time with friends and family can reduce stress and boost your mood. Engaging in meaningful conversations stimulates various parts of your brain, keeping it active and healthy.
Laugh Often: Laughter truly is the best medicine. It reduces stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, promoting an overall sense of well-being.
As you gather with loved ones, you might want to take note of how everyone is doing. If you haven’t seen friends or family members for a while, changes in behavior might be more noticeable. Here are 10 things to watch out for:
- Memory Loss:
- Forgetting recently learned information or important dates and events.
- Repeatedly asking for the same information.
- Relying heavily on memory aids or family members for things they used to handle independently.
- Difficulty Planning and Problem-Solving:
- Struggling with tasks that involve planning, organizing, and problem-solving.
- Making poor judgments, especially in situations they would have handled with ease before.
- Confusion with Time and Place:
- Losing track of dates, seasons, or the passage of time.
- Getting disoriented and being unable to recognize familiar places.
- Trouble Completing Familiar Tasks:
- Difficulty completing routine tasks that were once second nature, such as cooking a meal or managing finances.
- Taking significantly longer to finish tasks than before.
- Communication Challenges:
- Difficulty finding the right words or expressing thoughts clearly.
- Repeating themselves or struggling to follow and participate in conversations.
- Misplacing Items:
- Frequently misplacing items and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
- Putting things in unusual places, like placing car keys in the refrigerator.
- Decreased or Poor Judgment:
- Displaying impaired judgment in decision-making, such as giving away large sums of money to telemarketers.
- Demonstrating a lack of awareness of personal hygiene and grooming.
- Withdrawal from Social Activities:
- A significant decline in interest or participation in social activities and hobbies.
- Avoiding social interactions due to the challenges associated with cognitive decline.
- Mood and Personality Changes:
- Uncharacteristic changes in mood, such as increased irritability, anxiety, or depression.
- Shifts in personality, including becoming more reserved or less inhibited.
- Difficulty Learning New Information:
- Struggling to grasp and remember new information.
- Finding it challenging to adapt to new technologies or learn new skills.
Should you notice a change in a loved one’s behavior, there are many resources available on the Alzheimer’s Association website. If you’re concerned about the financial issues that might arise, including if you’re going to be a primary caregiver, it’s important to reach out to your financial planner. They can run the numbers for your and help you make educated decisions about your options.