Forgetting" is a common occurrence among the elderly that should not be taken lightly

"Forgetting" is a common occurrence among the elderly that should not be taken lightly, by Dr. Phanphat Prapapananchai, a specialist in geriatric medicine at PatRangsit Hospital.

Episodes of confusion and forgetfulness often occur, especially in older people. Sometimes we might dismiss it as a normal part of aging. However, as we age, these experiences can happen to anyone. For example, forgetting what we had for breakfast, not remembering where we placed an item, or not being able to find our glasses even though we thought they were on our head. These incidents can happen to anyone, but if they occur frequently and severely, impacting daily functioning or causing significant disruptions, it is not something that should be overlooked.

Many people mistakenly believe that episodes of confusion and forgetfulness are always signs of dementia. However, dementia is just one of the common conditions in the group of neurodegenerative diseases. Dementia refers to a progressive decline in cognitive abilities, behavior, and personality that is not present from birth and affects daily functioning. It becomes more prevalent with age, affecting around 5% of the population over the age of 65 and 20% of those over 80.

Other causes of cognitive decline include:

  • Stroke or brain hemorrhage
  • Infections in the brain
  • Deficiencies in certain nutrients, such as vitamin B1, B12, or folate
  • Brain tumors, especially in the frontal lobe
  • Recurring head injuries, such as in boxing, or abnormal thyroid hormone function
  • Chronic inflammation of brain blood vessels
  • Toxic substances or heavy metals
  • Hydrocephalus (enlarged brain ventricles)

So, when should we become aware that it might be Alzheimer's disease? Let's consider the following:

  • Episodes of misplacing or forgetting personal belongings, missing appointments, or not remembering recent events.
  • Confusion about time, place, or familiar routes to familiar locations, or difficulty finding the way home.
  • Forgetting people previously known, such as friends or family members, and mistaking them for strangers.
  • Forgetting names or repeatedly using the same name for different things.
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities, daily routines, or being indifferent towards things they used to like.
  • Difficulty using the phone, not remembering how to dial, struggling with buttons, or buttoning a shirt.
  • Mood changes, wandering away from home, having a blank expression, or rarely smiling.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene, such as not brushing teeth or bathing.

If an elderly family member experiences any of these symptoms, it could be an indication of Alzheimer's disease or other health problems. It is recommended to consult a geriatrician or neurologist for a thorough examination and further treatment.

As for brain-boosting tips, here are some dietary recommendations:

  • Eggs, which are rich in easily digestible protein and contain lecithin, aiding in nerve function.
  • Milk, which contains certain proteins that increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, promoting alertness and vitality.
  • Seafood, particularly fish high in selenium and iodine, such as tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA), which are essential for brain health.
  • Brown rice, which is rich in folate, expands red blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the brain. Brown rice is also found in whole wheat bread and whole grain rice.
  • Almonds, which are high in magnesium, enhance blood circulation and improve the flow of blood to the brain. Almonds are also a good source of vitamin B2, which improves memory.
  • Strawberries, blueberries, and avocados contain antioxidants that protect against free radicals that damage brain cells.
  • Eggplant, the skin of which contains nasunin, aids in the production of neurotransmitters.
  • It is important to avoid foods high in saturated fats, fried foods, chicken skin, pork, and foods high in trans fats, as they are detrimental to brain blood vessels.
  • Regular exercise and managing underlying health conditions, especially high blood pressure, diabetes, irregular heart rhythm, valve leaks, and high blood lipid levels, are essential for maintaining brain health.

These tips, in conjunction with seeking medical advice, can help promote cognitive well-being in older individuals.

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