As we age, cognition declines naturally in some of us. Interestingly, not everyone suffers this condition as they age. Why do some of us get it but others don’t? Possibly because those with high stress levels, and heavy smokers or drinkers, are more likely to experience rapid decline. So for the most at-risk groups what can we do to stop cognitive decline?
Cognitive impairment is a common fear many of us have for ourselves and our loved ones, as we age. Our memory, judgment, thought processes, and language skills can all be affected. Thankfully, it is possible to stop cognitive decline with psychological support to reduce stress, with brain exercises and healthy lifestyle.
Here we take a look at the different types of cognitive decline. And we have some useful tips to slow its advance or stop it.
1. Eat clean
A healthy diet is often rightly hailed these days as a sensible option for a healthy old age. So, eating a nice variety of nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables is good for our bodies and good for our brains, too. In addition, there is little doubt that such a diet can contribute to stopping cognitive decline.
Many studies indicate that adequate consumption of fruit and vegetables can prevent or delay the onset of cognitive decline. It is well-known that over-consumption of red meat and fatty foods tends to have the opposite effect.
Cut down or avoid sugar altogether!
2. Exercise the body and brain to stop cognitive decline
You may have noticed that many older people have developed the habit of doing crossword puzzles or sudoku. These are the smart guys as they know that keeping their brains active keeps them mentally alert.
Being mentally on the ball helps you stay independent for longer. Games that help you think, reason, or find solutions, exercise our minds and keep the brain in shape.
Modern technology has given us more options for exercising our little grey cells. Brain-training apps and programs are a fun way to stretch the limits of our cognitive function.
Chatting, discussing and developing plans and ideas, and all forms of social interaction help keep you mentally agile.
Physical exercise, walking, dancing or swimming are great ways to keep the body in shape. As the old adage goes: healthy body, healthy mind.
3. Stop cognitive decline with sobriety
Smoking, drugs, heavy alcohol use all raise your risk of going senile.
Researchers are discovering that seniors who did not stint in using recreational drugs in their youth are at greater risk. They seem to be declining faster than their more sober peers. And older folk aren’t the only ones affected either.
Many younger people are living with severe cognitive impairment thanks to the lingering after-effects of party drugs such as MDMA.
It is well-known that smoking and excessive alcohol consumption contribute significantly to cognitive impairment, so to stop it, give them up!
A recent analysis of 19 studies related to smoking and cognitive impairment showed that smokers were at greater risk generally. The findings indicate that inhaling cigarette smoke has neurotoxic effects.
Also, the link between excess alcohol, brain cell death, and cognitive decline is well documented. If you are also a heavy drinker then you greatly increase the risk of early onset cognitive impairment.
Stop cognitive decline: it’s not inevitable!
Studies show that many of the risk factors associated with cognitive impairment are controllable. However, some degree of forgetfulness can be expected at any age. It is very common, for instance, for elderly people to have difficulty recalling names. This is normal and is nothing more serious than just mild forgetfulness.
In addition to normal age-related changes, some individuals have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI manifests itself as forgetfulness, impulsiveness, and poor judgment. People with this condition may feel depressed, anxious, lethargic, and irritable. MCI indicates a greater risk of developing dementia.
Dementia is a more serious cognitive disorder. People with dementia and other neurological diseases live with many of the above signs and symptoms. Later on, they are more likely to experience these at levels that interfere with daily life.
Age-related cognitive impairment is not inevitable. Science has repeatedly shown us that we can stop cognitive decline. If your adult or senior loved one is suffering from cognitive impairment, needs help, do contact us or walk in to see how we can help.
We at Haym Salomon Home for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brooklyn are experienced in treating and caring for people with neurological diseases leading to cognitive decline.