Strategies for Slowing Cognitive Decline
Who doesn’t want to have a sharp enough memory to remember his marriage anniversary even in old age? Everyone does.
Similarly, no one wants to turn on the stove, get distracted by a doorbell, totally forget about the stove, and remember everything when she smells burning oil 20 minutes later. These subjective symptoms are related to cognitive decline or impairment.
Memory is part and parcel of human life, but with increasing age, you start forgetting things easing, you face difficulty remembering your tasks, etc. This article will guide you to slow down cognitive decline with increasing age!
Let’s get straight into it.
What is a cognitive decline?
Cognitive decline manifests as increased frequency of confusion, loss of memory, and difficulty remembering. In this state, cognition is impaired, leading to neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
Cognitive decline is associated with loss of other cognitive abilities, for example, loss of visual perception and language. It slows down the process of thinking, learning, and practicing skills. It is a normal aging phenomenon, but sometimes, it occurs earlier due to brain damage, neurodegenerative disorders, weakness, and trauma.
With increasing age, the function of neurons declines, and transmission of nerve impulses also slows down, leading to cognitive decline.
What is the mechanism of cognitive decline?
The underlying cause of cognitive decline is the neuronal deficit. In this neurodegenerative disorder, proteins are processed abnormally, which leads to the accumulation of abnormal protein, i.e., beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Moreover, changes in neurotransmitters such as erotogenic, nor-adrenergic, and cholinergic neurotransmitters lead to cognitive decline.
Several genetic variations also lead to a decline in cognition.
What are the causes of cognitive decline?
Cognitive decline is an age-related phenomenon, but it can occur due to external and internal changes in the body. The following are different causes:
- Person’s environment: If a person lives in such an environment that isn’t conducive to his mental health, he is prone to have cognitive decline.
- Nutrition: Malnutrition decreases the strength of your brain. A person loses his ability to think, understand, and perceive if his nutritional needs are not met.
- Estrogen levels: Decreased estrogen levels lead to cognitive impairment in older people, especially women. Arteries harden, decreasing blood supply to the brain leading to disruption of functions.
- Free radicals: These are highly reactive molecules produced as a result of unhealthy foods. They can damage the brain leading to cognitive impairment.
- Family history
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Exposure to insecticides or pesticides
- Parkinson’s disease
- Diabetes mellitus
How to slow down cognitive decline?
Cognitive decline is an irreversible phenomenon, but several factors slow down this process and protect against worsening symptoms.
Physical activities and regular exercise decrease the risk of major diseases like cardiovascular diseases, brain disorders, dementia, and cognitive decline. Aerobic exercises, fitness training, sports, and co-curricular activities effectively improve cognition.
WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of aerobic exercises per week for people aged 65 years.
2. Nutrition and alcohol
Consistent consumption of alcohol leads to dementia and Wernicke’s Korsakoff syndrome. WHO recommended total abstinence from alcohol to improve cognitive functions.
A Mediterranean diet helps in slowing down the process of cognitive decline. This healthy diet consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, dairy products, and red meat. It lowers the risk of brain disorders and improves the functioning of neurons.
3. Role of chronic inflammation
Chronic inflammation is one of the major contributors to cardiovascular diseases, malignancies, and diabetes. You can manage the inflammatory process by following methods:
- Treat infections in time
- Eat healthily
- Get enough sleep
- Quit smoking and alcohol
- Manage weight and exercise regularly
4. Adequate sleep
Adequate and peaceful sleep improves not only cognitive functioning but also physical and mental health. Lack of sleep decreases intelligence, learning, and perception. A good quality sleep every night improves symptoms of cognitive decline and resist further progression.
5. Brain stimulants
Cognitive stimulants are aimed at improving cognition and functions of the brain. Specific practices are designed to stimulate the cognitive function of your mind. Increased neuronal activity improves symptoms of cognitive decline.
Cognitive training programs help improve memory loss.
6. Social Interactions
Lack of social interactions, less social contacts, and staying alone makes you prone to psychiatric disorders. Man is a social animal; socializing is necessary for mental health. Lack of social interactions leads to dementia, which is a bridge to cognitive decline. Support of family, friends, colleagues and your loved ones improves cognitive functioning. Social interactions must be encouraged, especially during old ages.
7. Effect of Smoking
Smoking tobacco is associated with an increased risk of lung diseases (such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, bronchiectasis, and COPD), cardiovascular diseases, and cancers. Smokers are at higher risk of developing brain disorders and dementia.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management have been proven effective in treating dementia chased by smoking. Pharmacological therapies are considered the most effective management.
8. Management of body weight
Overweight individuals are more susceptible to cognitive decline as compared to healthy people. Obesity is associated with several diseases like diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke. These all are risk factors for dementia.
World health organization recommends weight loss and lifestyles interventions for obese people to prevent brain disorders. You can lose weight by following interventions:
- Avoid sedentary lifestyle
- Strict glycemic control
- Physical activity
- Take foods with a low glycemic index.
Cognitive decline is a progressive and irreversible phenomenon that occurs with increasing age. You can effectively control its progression by maintaining nutrition, consistent and good quality sleep, weight management, physical activities, social interactions, and brain stimulants. It is necessary to take good care of your mental health because the quality of your life depends on your mental health.
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