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As we get older, certain neurological conditions become more likely. And although they’re not an inevitable part of the aging process, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms so you know when to see a doctor.
Below, we’re going to look at two common neurological conditions that are associated with aging. We’ll also give you hints on how to spot them, look at some potential treatments, and explore tactics to help prevent them.
A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is restricted or blocked, and brain cells begin to die. This is usually caused by a blood clot, or sometimes when a weakened blood vessel in the brain bursts.
Signs & Symptoms
The acronym FAST is useful for remembering the signs of a stroke and what you should do if you suspect one.
- F stands for face – Has one side of the person’s face drooped?
- A is for arms – Is the person able to raise both arms above their head and keep them there?
- S is for speech – Is their speech slurred or garbled? Or are they unable to speak?
- T is for time – If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to call 911 immediately.
Treatment will depend on the type and severity of the stroke, and everyone will have a unique journey towards rehabilitation. Some people will make a full recovery, while for others, the focus will be on regaining as much independence as possible. Treatment might involve medication to dissolve and prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol. You may also be offered psychotherapy, physiotherapy, and speech and language therapy, among other forms of rehabilitation.
There’s often a lot you can do to help prevent a stroke. Eating a healthy diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables, oily fish, and fibre has multiple health benefits, including stroke prevention. The same is true for exercising more, drinking less alcohol, and not smoking.
Dementia is an overarching term which encompasses a variety of disorders affecting the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, among others.
Signs & Symptoms
Although some memory loss can be a normal part of aging – known as age-associated memory impairment – dementia is not. Some signs of possible dementia include:
- Significant memory loss – both long- and short-term.
- Difficulties with thinking, problem-solving, or language that reduce a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks.
- Changes in mood and behaviour.
If you start to notice any of these symptoms in yourself or someone you care for – even if they seem minor – then it’s a good idea to see your doctor. If it is dementia, getting diagnosed early has several benefits. Medications that help with symptoms and slow the rate of cognitive decline can be used more effectively when started early on. Furthermore, early diagnosis can help you plan for the future and take a more active role in your own treatment.
Although there’s no sure-fire way to prevent dementia, certain behaviours can help reduce your risk. Luckily, many of them overlap with the tactics mentioned above that help lower the risk of stroke. These include not smoking, having a healthy diet, not being overweight, and not drinking too much alcohol. Other behaviours that can help protect you from dementia include staying social and challenging your mind with activities such as reading, volunteering, and doing puzzles.
We hope that this article helps you feel more informed and reduces the stigma around conditions such as stroke and dementia. With the right information, you can start to take control of the health of your brain.
The information presented in this blog post is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this post as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for professional counseling care. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.