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A steady decline in cognitive abilities is an unfortunate reality that comes with age. Mild cognitive impairment, the phase between the expected mental decline that comes with age and the more severe illness of dementia, affects about one in five people over the age of 65. Men are particularly at risk and are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than women, so it is especially important to take steps early on to combat cognitive decline before it begins to significantly impact your life.
Symptoms of Cognitive Decline
Because your brain transforms as you age, you may notice certain mental tasks become more difficult. It is normal to have some amount of forgetfulness and to have difficulty recalling words, phrases, or names. Certain behaviors are more serious causes for alarm, and may suggest the development of some level of cognitive impairment:
- You become lost easily, even in familiar or well-known places
- You find it difficult to follow the plots of books of movies
- You consistently forget important dates, such as birthdays or anniversaries
- You have trouble making decisions, following directions, or act impulsively
- Those close to you begin to notice or ask questions about your mental health
Causes of Cognitive Decline
Although it is difficult to point out any one particular cause of cognitive impairment, studies of the brain have found that key changes such as shrinking in the hippocampus or enlarged ventricles can have a serious impact on memory. There are, however, many risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing cognitive disorder, including:
- Diabetes and Obesity. Diet can play a large part in keeping your brain healthy, and high blood pressure or cholesterol levels may greatly impact your cognitive ability.
- Alcohol and Tobacco. Poor lifestyle choices that put your health at risk may not only harm your body, but your mind as well. Moderation is key, as too much tobacco or alcohol can permanently damage your brain.
- Sedentary Lifestyles. In the same way that you keep your body healthy and fit through exercise, it is important to stimulate your brain through mental or social activities. Playing games or solving puzzles is an easy way to keep your mind sharp.
Combating Cognitive Decline
While there are currently no drugs or treatments available to treat cognitive impairment, there are many methods of combating the early signs of mental illness before they begin to affect your daily life. Lifestyle changes you might consider trying include:
- Mental and Physical Exercise. While training your body physically can improve the health of your heart, mental exercise improves the quality of your brain. Perform mentally stimulating tasks often and attend social gatherings with friends or family. Practice remembering names, read books, or play games with a group of people or by yourself. Mental stimulation is perhaps the most important tool for slowing, and even stopping, cognitive decline in older men.
- Eat More Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Diets high in fruits, vegetables, and fish have been shown to improve cognitive function, while also being good for the health and wellbeing of your body in general.
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Studies have shown that a single, lengthy period of rest at night helps keep the brain active and alert. Men who repeatedly nap throughout the day are more at risk for developing memory-related illnesses than those who remain active the entire day.
Just like you take care of your body, you should also be taking care of your brain. CORE Medical & Wellness has a variety of tools dedicated to men’s health to keep you and your brain working their best.
Ready to Get Started?
Cognitive decline can be a troubling development. If you’re ready to begin taking steps toward greater mental health and well-being, CORE Medical & Wellness can help. Call us at 888-521-0688 to set up an appointment, or contact us online to have us give you a call back at a time that is convenient for you.
Dr. Jag Desai, M.D. is double board certified in anesthesiology and interventional pain medicine. He specializes in preventing and treating degenerative processes that can lead to conditions such as: back pain, musculoskeletal pain, cancer pain, neuropathic pain, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), minimally invasive spine procedures, and muscle spasticity. Read his full bio here.