No two individuals are the same, but many men and women encounter similar changes as they approach their golden years. As adults get closer to retirement, their eyeglass prescriptions may need to get a little stronger and their workouts may need to be a little less intense as their bodies adjust to the physical challenges of aging.
Many changes associated with aging don’t affect seniors’ ability to live independently. However, one common concern for older adults is the potential decline of their cognitive health, which can compromise their ability to get through their daily lives without some form of assistance.
According to the National Institute on Aging, many older adults worry about memory loss as they age. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that voicing concerns about memory loss can make those worries seem more real. That fear may compel some aging men and women to write off memory loss as a minor side effect of getting older. And in many instances, memory loss is not severe and not indicative of the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the Alzheimer’s Association notes how important it is for aging men and women to seek support if they are concerned about their memory or any changes in the way they’re thinking or behaving. Doctors can be invaluable resources for aging men and women, offering tips on how to confront memory loss and recommending strategies that can improve cognitive function.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends aging adults take a three-pronged approach to memory loss the moment they notice any changes in their memory or behaviors.
Assess the situation.
Start making a list of any changes you notice each day. Changes could be related to memory, thought patterns or behaviors. Note anything that feels abnormal or is causing you concern.
A good assessment also will involve careful consideration of any and all potential factors that may be behind your concerns. Is something other than aging going on? Family stress or a recently diagnosed medical condition can lead to the same issues many people associate with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 warning signs for Alzheimer’s at www.alz.org/10signs. Familiarize yourself with these signs to see how they line up with how you’re feeling.
Take note of anyone who has shared concerns about your memory loss, thought patterns or behaviors. It’s not always easy to hear loved ones express such concerns, but they should not be ignored.
Have a conversation.
The Alzheimer’s Association notes that many people find it helpful to discuss their concerns with a loved one rather than going it alone. Don’t delay such conversations, but try to figure out how you will approach them in advance.
After discussing your concerns with a trusted loved one, ask this person to accompany you when you discuss these concerns with your doctor. Having a loved one accompany you when visiting the doctor can calm your nerves, and this person can serve as a backup who can ask the doctor any questions or share any concerns you may forget to ask or bring up.
If a loved one says your concerns sound like normal aging but you still want to seek more support, don’t hesitate to contact another friend or family member.
Reach out for help.
The Alzheimer’s Association is a reliable source of information that can be accessed online at www.alz.org and over the phone at (800) 272.3900. Individuals also can find local resources by visiting www.alz.org/CRF.
Many individuals are scared to confront the potential onset of memory loss. But no one has to make such a journey alone. (MC)