Am I concerned? You bet I am.
Cognitive decline affects thousands of older adults every year but remains misunderstood by many Americans. The condition manifests through a full spectrum of symptoms from confusion and memory loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Despite the fact that one in nine adults above age 45 experience confusion or memory loss and one in 10 adults age 65 and older develop Alzheimer’s, less than 50 percent of adults who begin experiencing symptoms visit their doctor.
Although there is no cure for cognitive decline, adults can take everyday precautions to avoid or delay the onset of symptoms.
- Seek medical attention – If you find yourself losing memory or experiencing regular dizziness, you should see your doctor. Early screening has proven to be effective in helping deploy strategies to maintain and/or treat the underlying issue causing cognitive decline. According to the National Institute of Health, screenings led by trained professionals can take 10 minutes or less and can lead to a better standard of living for someone battling cognitive decline.
- Diet and exercise – We here at SOMOS always talk about the importance of good health and exercise in an overall healthier life. This proves even more important when it comes to keeping your brain sharp. Exercise is one of the main ways to maintain and quicken your metabolism. Metabolic deficiencies are proven to be the beginning of many neurological dysfunctions that lead to cognitive delay. Additionally, diets higher in antioxidants, fatty acids, folate and vitamin B12 have been shown to prevent cognitive disorder, and following the DASH Nutrition Plan can help to reduce the risk of dementia.
- Mental stimulation and social contact – Staying mentally sharp is key in preventing cognitive decline. Mentally stimulating activities have been linked to a decreased risk of cognitive dysfunction. For example, according to a study, working on arts and crafts and using the computer lowered the risk of cognitive decline by up to 30 percent. Social activities are also proven to be helpful. According to the same study, those regularly participating in social activities were 23 percent less likely to have cognitive impairment.
- Sleep – Losing one night of sleep may not affect your cognitive abilities, but long-term sleep deprivation can lead to mild cognition impact, based on an American Neurological Association The same study shows that getting to sleep early and staying asleep for the recommended seven to eight hours correlates with normal cognition.
I have discussed my concerns with my doctor. He has advised good nutrition, plenty of exercise, not only to be fit but to reduce stress. I will add that laughter has always been my best medicine.
We likely all know someone affected by cognitive decline, however, it does not need to be a frightening prospect. Following these steps and creating the right habits in everyday life can us help us all prevent or prolong the onset of cognitive decline. As always, visit your doctor to discuss any concerns and the best treatment options for you.