With our current economic conditions and a host of other pressures an increasing number of American’s are considering staying in the workforce beyond their planned retirement age. Many will have no choice after the great losses to their retirement accounts. As the average age of the workforce increases so too does the concern for their well-being, especially in reference to dementia and more specifically Alzheimer’s. Right now there are more than 5 million American’s with Alzheimer’s and that is expected to quadruple by 2050. That could be very problematic for businesses, those affected by the disease as well as their co-workers.
If we have a family history of dementia we would be well served to know the early warning signs of the disease. The warnings can be hard to notice as they are revealed rather slowly.
Another way to combat dementia is to be proactive throughout our lives. In the article “How to Age-Proof Your Memory” health.com lists some interesting ideas.
In Our 30’s
Avoid stress, “Stress is toxic to the brain,” says Denise Park, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas. The body’s stress response floods the brain with powerful hormones. In the short-term, that helps you focus and cram to meet a deadline, but over time it kills neurons and damages memory centers.
In Our 40’s
Try to maintain focus. “The first step to remembering is paying attention in the first place,” says Gary Small, MD, director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Center on Aging and author of The Memory Bible: An Innovative Strategy for Keeping Your Brain Young. At work, set aside daily chunks of time to unplug from email, instant messages, and workplace chatter. When parking in a big lot, check and recheck landmarks.
In Our 50’s
Maintain close relationships. Ten minutes of talking actually boosts memory and thinking speed afterward, according to new research. “It takes a lot of mental work—you’re paying attention, trying to figure out where somebody is coming from, and sometimes biting your tongue,” says study author Oscar Ybarra, PhD, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. This kind of interaction may be as useful as doing crossword puzzles or taking reading-comprehension tests. “Socializing,” Ybarra says, “helps you navigate the real world.”
Plan and Act Now
Taking the right steps now can affect our future well-being. Similarly planning now for the future can positively affect our financial well being. We all want to stay in control of our lives as long as possible and for that we must plan. When it comes to planning for the future, the sad fact is that every year we fail to plan we lose options. Wait long enough and the only options left are those made for us out of desperation. Remember, timing is everything. In order to maintain control as long as possible and have an effect on your own quality of life decisions you must choose to act now. Your decisions need to be made known and documented correctly. Good planning is no accident!