The Brain Function Continuum
Dementia risk factors- and the Brain Function Continuum- fit like hand and glove.
Research has identified many risk factors that contribute to the loss of brain function.
A risk factor is something that increases a person’s chances of developing a disease.
Think of brain function as a continuum spread out between two endpoints such as in the graph below.
The end on the left represents normal brain function, while the one on the right represents dementia.
The more dementia risk factors you have in your life, the more likely you are to move down the brain continuum towards dementia.
Frequent ‘senior moments’ are signs that you are moving down the continuum.
Subjective Cognitive Impairment (SCI) is a point along the continuum where you are experiencing changes in memory- such as forgetting where you placed familiar objects.
The good news is that you still score OK on memory tests and can handle employment and social situations.
Mild Cognitive Impairment- or MCI on the other hand, is a point along the continuum where you are having trouble on memory tests and exhibiting changes in behavior.
Coworkers may notice a decline in work performance.
Word and/or name finding problems become evident to people close to you.
You may not retain much of a book passage you just read.
After MCI- next on the Brain Function Continuum are the early, moderate, and late stages of Alzheimer's and related dementias.
Healthy vs. Alzheimer's
This picture represents the two ends of the continuum side by side.
It's a cross section (coronal) of the brain showing the two halves of the brain.
The left side is a healthy brain and represents the normal end of the continuum- and the right side is an Alzheimer's brain representing the dementia end of the continuum.
Notice the shrinkage and holes from brain cell loss in the demented brain.
If you are experiencing senior moments- your brain is somewhere in the middle of these two halves.
The shrinkage and holes are not as severe- but the process has begun.
To stop the shrinkage and progression to dementia- incorporate the 4 key factors for better brain health into your life:
1- Proper Brain Stimulation
2- Proper Nutrition
3- Physical Exercise & Rest
4- Avoid known risk factors
These are all behavioral factors that are within your control.
The only person that can stop your memory loss- is you!
Early intervention is key.
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