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Preventing Cognitive Decline in Aging Adults


A senior couple outside a restaurant with flowers.

Aging is a beautiful thing. It comes with memorable experiences that bring smiles to our faces and challenges that, when we look back today, aren't as problematic as we once thought they were. Our memories are what helps us look back and see how far along we have prospered in life and how much we have changed for the better. It is important to nurture the brain to keep these memory banks full. Even if an older adult develops dementia later in life, they still hold on to many lovely memories from their childhood, some of which can be triggered by sights, smells, songs and sounds. Minor cognitive decline can be a natural part of the aging process, although some seniors have more decline than others. The decline in cognitive abilities not only affect memory but also attention and reasoning. We will share helpful activities that people of all ages can add to their daily routine to help support the cognitive function of their brains.


Stay Physically Active

Participating in regular physical activity has been shown through studies to promote cognitive health in people of all ages. Exercise can increase the blood flow to the brain, which improves all aspects of cognitive function including mental health. It can also help promote the growth of new brain cells while protecting existing ones. Exercise may also reduce the risk of developing conditions relating to dementia.


Stay Mentally Active

One of the most important activities to partake in is mental stimulation. Mental stimulation will help the brain form new neural pathways which ultimately protect against cognitive decline. Keeping your brain active with things such as learning a new language, reading, crosswords, or puzzles will challenge your brain and help keep it sharp.


Maintain a Healthy Diet

Healthy diet this! Healthy diet that! We wouldn’t be repeating this all the time if it weren’t true. Food has a big impact on your health and the well-being of your entire body. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help support brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. It’s also important to take note that you should limit your intake of processed foods, sugars and saturated fats.


Stay Socially Connected

It has been proven that social isolation can have a big negative impact on cognitive health. Maintaining connections with friends and family can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline by staying mentally stimulated in conversations and getting yourself out there. Joining a club, volunteering, or attending social gatherings are all a great way to stay connected in the community.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is very important for cognitive health. Lack of sleep can lead to impairment, memory problems and difficulty concentrating. Make sure you get sufficient amounts of sleep every night to promote the removal of toxins from your brain through the process of the glymphatic system. Lack of sleep interferes with this process and can contribute to cognitive decline.


Manage Stress

Meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises are all great methods of managing stress and should be practiced often since everyone deals with stress everyday. Chronic stress can have a negative impact on cognitive function so it is important to address the sources of your stress.


Treat Medical Conditions

There are several medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and depression, which have been seen to negatively impact the cognitive function of the brain. Contact your doctor to help manage these conditions and appropriately take medications as prescribed.


Avoid Smoking and Excess Alcohol

Smoking and the abuse of alcohol can have a negative impact on cognitive function. It is important to protect your brain from harmful chemicals that are introduced into the body from tobacco inhalation and alcohol.


Stay Positive

You know what they say: a positive attitude can take you a long way. Positivity can positively affect cognitive function. Studies show that people who maintain a positive outlook on life tend to have better cognitive function and a lower risk of cognitive decline.


Incorporating these helpful tips into your daily routine can help improve cognitive function tremendously. Don’t feel like you must change overnight, but do try to slowly introduce these simple activities into your daily routine to see an increase in cognitive function. It is never too late to start improving your health!

 

Read more senior lifestyle articles: here! Or, find a new healthy recipe: here!

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