For his age, the star is coping impressively well and seems to have avoided any major health troubles in recent times. However, keeping up with a hectic and demanding work schedule has proved difficult for the natural historian, who has previously admitted that he struggles to remember the names of both plants and animals. In addition, in an interview for CBS’s Anderson Cooper for his segment 60 Seconds with… Attenborough had a shocking response to the question “what are you most fearful of at this moment?”
Considering his delicate age, and thoughts of getting even older, Attenborough is in remarkable health. The only time the star has really revealed much about his well being, apart from the interview with Anderson, was during another with The Telegraph, where the star expressed he has had some trouble with memory loss.
Memory loss is something that typically affects all older individuals, and with it being one of the main signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, many fear that forgetfulness is just the beginning of a progressive disease.
And Attenborough is no different, as he recalled his frustration at his inability to remember certain words when talking to The Sunday Telegraph.
Speaking about a trip to the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, the star said: “There were these searing yellow fields, and I can’t think of the damn name. I wanted to say something about it, but I couldn’t.
“It wasn’t until we got quite close to Geneva that I thought, of course, oil seed rape [i.e. rapeseed oil].”
During the candid interview, Attenborough went on to say that he is “coming to terms” with the possibility that memory loss might occur more and more the older he gets.
However, at the age of 95 already, the star’s sporadic memory loss, or the possibility of him going “gaga,” is nothing too serious to be worrying about at the moment.
In fact, his attorney Michael Ridley spoke out after comments from Attenborough had been “blown up out of all proportion”.
In an email, Ridley wrote: “From my personal perspective, having heard him deliver a 20-minute speech fluently and without notes very recently (and there have been plenty more since I heard this one), any morbid speculation here is quite unnecessary.”
It is important to remember that there are some key differences between what is considered cognitive impairment and more long-term illnesses such as dementia.
The National Institute on Ageing (NIA) explains that mild cognitive impairment is when an individual has trouble remembering, learning new skills or concentrating.
Symptoms are in no way as severe as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and people are still able to take care of themselves and do their normal daily activities.
Although the condition does have the potential to increase a person’s risk of dementia, some people with mild cognitive impairment may never suffer from any more severe symptoms.
The NIA went further to explain that an estimated 10 to 20 percent of people aged 65 or over who already have mild cognitive impairment, develop dementia in a year.
If you start to notice a change in your or someone close to you’s behaviour or personality, as well as a delay in speech, this could be the key indicators of early dementia.
The NHS provides a full list of the early symptoms of dementia that may appear before an official diagnosis:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- Being confused about time and place
- Mood changes.
In addition to the above, specific symptoms that are connected to Alzheimer’s include individuals asking questions repetitively, difficulty finding the right words and becoming more anxious and withdrawn.
In cases where individuals, families or friends become worried about memory loss, it is best to seek a medical opinion. The NIA explains that doctors can perform tests and assessments to help understand the source of memory loss.
As mild cognitive impairment may be an early sign of more serious memory problems, it’s important to see a doctor or specialist every six to 12 months. Here, a doctor can help track changes in memory and thinking skills over time. Keeping a record of any changes can also be helpful.
Research is also being carried out to help manage the condition, with clinical trials testing whether a new drug treatment is safe and effective in people. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain lifestyle choices can put you more at risk for developing cognitive impairment. This includes a lack of physical exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and infrequent participation in mentally or socially stimulating activities.
In order to prevent the chance of developing mild cognitive impairment, as well as generally trying to improve memory, the health website goes on to recommend seven tips to try and reduce memory loss. These include:
- Include physical activity in your daily routine
- Stay mentally active
- Socialise regularly
- Get organised
- Sleep well
- Eat a healthy diet
- Manage any other chronic conditions e.g. high blood pressure.
Published at Thu, 30 Dec 2021 19:00:00 +0000