5 Red Flags Your Brain Is Aging Faster Than You
One of the most challenging aspects of getting older is experiencing cognitive decline. According to research, comprehension skills, memory, and reasoning can begin to regress once you hit midlife—the age of 45. It's a natural part of aging to endure some level of decline in your cognitive capabilities. But there are certain red flags that should be on your radar if cognitive decline comes on too fast or much earlier than you would have thought, says Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, a member of our Medical Expert Board. Dr. Bohl shares five red flags your brain is aging faster than you so you know exactly what to look out for.
"[As you age,] certain parts of the brain shrink, there may be fewer connections between brain cells, and other issues—like microvascular disease or another disease of cognitive function—slowly make themselves known," Dr. Bohl says. "However, if cognitive decline happens too early, too quickly, or to a greater degree than would be expected, it could mean there is some underlying issue that should be addressed. In these cases, it's important to talk to a healthcare provider to see what's going on. The answer could be as simple as correcting a nutrient deficiency, or it could mean figuring out how to manage some other condition."
Keep reading to discover Dr. Bohl's five red flags your brain is aging faster than you. And when you're done, don't miss The 5 Worst Daily Habits for Your Brain as You Age.
1. You're losing your sense of balance.
Flexibility and strength are two crucial parts of balance. Both are necessary in order to ensure your body remains upright, UCLA Health explains. Research shows that balance starts to diminish once you hit midlife, at around the age of 50. Dr. Bohl says finding it challenging to balance can be due to reduced muscle mass. (This of course could be boosted via strength training.) But losing your sense of balance could also be a red flag that something else is happening in your brain.
2. You're having issues with movement and losing your sense of coordination.
Another red flag that something may be going on in your brain? You're having issues with movement and losing your sense of coordination. Be mindful of your ability to have control over your own movements or to perform "fine movements." According to the Social Care Institute for Excellence, some of the typical early red flags of dementia include challenges with coordination and recognition, disorientation, memory issues, and a decline in your communication skills.
3. You're forgetting words and/or experiencing memory loss.
Dr. Bohl reveals that it's natural to forget a few words every so often. However, if you sense this is occurring more frequently than it should, note that your body could be telling you something's wrong. In addition, it's also common to forget some things from the past here and there. But Dr. Bohl adds, "But if you find you are losing your long-term memory or are unable to form short-term memories, it could mean something is going on with your brain."
4. You're finding it difficult to do daily tasks.
Everyone finds it hard to get motivated to do tasks and finish them. But if tasks such as completing your taxes, balancing your checkbook, or paying your bills seem more laborsome and challenging than normal, that's something to take note of.
5. You're dealing with mood swings.
Dr. Bohl points out, "Another important function of the brain is to experience and regulate your mood." Life in general can bring on mood swings. Be keenly aware if you suddenly experience changes in the way you feel and act. Unexplained mood changes may be a telltale sign you need to speak with your physician.