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Experts believe dementia often starts 10-15 years before it becomes apparent to family and friends.

The initial stages are very mild and difficult to distinguish from general age-related memory decline since short-term memory lapses and forgetfulness generally occur from middle age onwards.

“Cognitive impairment” means a person has trouble with memory, difficulty learning new things, ability to concentrate, or to make decisions that affect their everyday life. Cognitive impairment can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Some signs to watch for:

  • Noticeable difficulty in coming up with the right word or name
  • Trouble remembering names of new people
  • Having noticeably greater difficulty performing daily tasks
  • Short-term memory loss like forgetting information that one has just read
  • Misplacing objects
  • Marked difficulty in activities that involve planning or organizing

If you suspect your loved one may be experiencing cognitive impairment, please do not delay in getting them evaluated.

The good news is that you’re never too old to start boosting your brainpower, and it can be fun.

The fact that mental exercises can bolster your brain has even been discovered by the press. The Daily Mail in England reports that volunteers aged 65 and over who did just ten hours of training their memory, problem solving and reaction times had mental abilities similar to people seven to fourteen years younger who hadn’t done such exercises.

So just what sort of mental exercises tunes up the brain and gets it firing on all cylinders?

Luckily you don’t have to do the mental equivalent of sit-ups and push-ups. Mental exercises for Alzheimer’s can be fun and enjoyable. You can even play games to fire up the neurons.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Playing cards is good mental exercise
  • Sudoku is a Japanese number game that takes concentration. The local newspaper will often have a game of Sudoku in it near the crossword puzzle, and books of games are easy to find in shops.
  • Scrabble, crossword puzzles and jigsaws are all good for the grey matter.
  • The solitaire games of FreeCell and Spider are good too, and you can play them on your computer.
  • Keep learning! Learning a new skill, keeps your brain sharp.
  • Dance and exercise – yes, physical activity boosts brain activity.

And here’s something to do less of. Don’t watch too much television unless it’s something mentally stimulating. Passively watching sitcoms and soaps dulls the brain you’re trying to sharpen.

Mental exercises can make a big difference to your life, whether you’re trying to prevent cognitive impairment or already have it. You can gain years of life that could otherwise be lost. Get started now and keep challenging your brain. It’s worth the effort. And remember that there are a lot more things you can do to fight this.

Approved Healthcare provides caregivers who are trained to work with clients who have varying levels of dementia.  They keep a close watch on your loved ones and will be able to let you know if they suspect your loved ones is showing signs of cognitive impairment.