Skin begins to wrinkle, vision blurs, joints get stiff, and brains slow down. Just like in the rest of your body, it’s typical to experience some changes in your brain function as you get older. So how do you know what’s normal and what’s not?
Dr. Jeffrey Mark here at All Functional Health specializes in personalized age management and functional medicine, and can help you recognize the early warning signs of cognitive decline and treat your condition to slow the progression. With four board certifications to his name, Dr. Mark has the credentials, experience, skills, and compassionate approach essential to caring for you as you navigate your brain health issues.
Understanding cognitive decline
If you struggle to come up with a name or a word now and then, consider yourself in good company. Nearly everyone who lives long enough eventually loses a bit of their mental acuity. But when those symptoms cross the line and become patterns that disrupt your life, it may be the early signs of brain health issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or dementia.
Those who experience cognitive decline notice a change in their thinking, language, memory, and judgement skills. And if you don’t realize it yourself, others certainly will. If friends or family mention that something about you seems “off,” or they start asking if you’re okay, it may be an indicator that you need to seek Dr. Mark’s care.
If your cognitive impairment is mild, it could mean that you’re seeing the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but it could also be a blessing in disguise. Many people who catch these symptoms early and get treatment can halt the progression or reverse it.
Causes of cognitive decline
In addition to the aging process, several other factors have been shown to cause mild cognitive impairment, including:
- Shrinkage of the part of the brain responsible for memory (hippocampus)
- Strokes and blood clots
- Enlarged ventricles (fluid-filled spaces) in the brain
- Abnormal, microscopic clumps of proteins in the brain
- Inadequate use of blood sugar in the brain
These conditions can change the way your brain functions and manifest in the following signs of cognitive decline.
As we mentioned, not all minor memory problems point to cognitive decline. Stress, age, distractedness, and fatigue can all cause temporary forgetfulness.
But when it happens frequently and there’s no logical trigger like those we just listed, it may mean something more. Forgetting where you left your keys is normal, but the inability to remember important events and appointments is not. And if you have trouble recognizing people and places you know well, it’s time to seek help.
Imbalanced hormones are notorious for causing mood swings, but when the hormones level out, so do the moods. Emotional outbursts, angry rants, and crying jags may be a sign that your brain isn’t functioning properly. Irritability, aggression, anxiety, and depression are also common symptoms of cognitive decline.
As age or disease change your brain, one of the effects is the inability to focus mentally. You tend to lose your train of thought when speaking, get confused during conversations, and lose track of the plot in books and movies. Cognitive decline may also manifest in impulsive actions, uncharacteristically rash behavior, and poor or illogical judgement.
Since your brain controls your motor skills, cognitive decline may show up in the way you walk, talk, and move. You may lose your balance, slur your speech, suddenly have sloppy penmanship, or have trouble flipping through the pages of a book. If you notice these symptoms but are otherwise healthy, it’s important to come see Dr. Mark and get to the bottom of it.
Treating cognitive decline
There’s no cure for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease, but there are ways to ease the severity and frequency of the symptoms. Dr. Mark’s broad background gives him a unique perspective on your cognitive decline and allows him to customize your treatment from a multidisciplinary approach.
Depending on your age, overall health, specific symptoms, and risk factors, he tailors your treatment to address your individual situation. From supplements and nutritional counseling to lifestyle changes like learning to manage stress, he helps patients improve their moods, sharpen their focus, and reclaim their ability to function despite their cognitive decline.
If you’ve noticed any of the signs of cognitive decline, or anyone who knows and loves you has, don’t wait — contact us today at either of our two offices in Turlock and San Ramon, California. Or you can request a consultation with Dr. Mark online. Treating the issues early can prevent them from getting worse.