Growing older can bring about a variety of physical and mental changes. Even if you’re in good health, your brain and body begin to slow down. Maintaining your cognitive health — the ability to think, learn, and remember clearly—is critical to your overall well-being.
Many factors have an impact on cognitive health. Your genes, lifestyle, and environment can all have an impact on your cognitive abilities and ability to perform daily tasks. It’s normal to see a decline in cognitive function as you get older. That could mean occasionally misplacing items, forgetting words, or temporarily forgetting what day it is. You may also notice that learning new things takes longer. These symptoms do not always indicate that you are developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.
Change is unavoidable as we age. However, there are numerous things you can do to safeguard your cognitive health as you age. This includes understanding what jeopardizes your well-being.
Older adults are more likely to experience more than just occasional memory problems. Other changes to the way the brain works can occur as a result of aging. These changes can have an impact on your ability to deal with difficult social situations. As a result, you are more likely to be duped.
In addition, older adults are more likely than younger people to pick up the phone without knowing who is calling. Simply doing so exposes you to a conversation with someone who may be an unscrupulous person attempting to steal from you.
In a study, people with low scam awareness were roughly twice as likely as those with high scam awareness to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Memory or other types of thinking problems can be caused by a variety of factors. Cognitive changes can be caused by depression, anxiety, an infection, or even certain medications. These kinds of problems can sometimes be resolved with treatment.
A new medication could be causing a sudden change in your thinking, memory, or mood. Some medications may not cause cognitive changes when taken alone, but they may when combined with other medications. If you have more than one doctor, one of them may not be aware of what the others have prescribed. When visiting a healthcare provider, older adults benefit greatly from having a list of all their over-the-counter, herbal, and prescribed medications with them.
When certain medications are combined with alcohol, they can have dangerous, even fatal, side effects. Furthermore, alcohol alone poses risks to the aging brain. In an older adult, it may take less alcohol to impair judgment, coordination, balance, or sleep patterns.
Dangerous drinking habits are on the rise among older adults in the United States. According to a recent NIH-funded study, one in every ten Americans aged 65 and up binge drinks on a regular basis. For women, this means drinking four or more drinks on the same occasion, and for men, it means drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion.
A recent study used brain imaging to investigate the effects of alcohol on the brain. They discovered that older adults who abused alcohol lost more brain tissue than their peers who did not drink. This was true even if they began drinking later in life. The good news is that some cognitive or memory problems caused by medications or alcohol abuse can be reversed.
Improving Brain Power
There are numerous things you can do to safeguard your brain as you age. Cognitive activity, physical activity, and social engagement have all been linked to improved cognitive functioning in older adults. It is also critical to manage your health conditions. Controlling your blood pressure, for example, lowers your chances of having a minor stroke. Small strokes can result in temporary or permanent cognitive issues.
A sense of purpose in one’s life may also help protect older adults from cognitive decline. According to one study, people who felt more purpose in life had fewer symptoms of brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The aging brain can accumulate Alzheimer’s changes, but if you stimulate and strengthen it like a muscle, you might be able to tolerate those changes better.
PROTECTING YOUR BRAIN
Maintaining your brain health can be aided by maintaining your overall health. These suggestions can help you stay physically and mentally active while also staying healthy:
- When possible, choose healthy foods
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- You should not smoke or use tobacco products
- Get enough rest
- Make physical activity a regular part of your routine
- Learn, teach, and volunteer to keep your mind active
- Maintain contact with family, friends, and your community
- Manage chronic health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol
Older people have better verbal abilities than younger people. They are more capable problem solvers. And accumulated experience is extremely beneficial. Consider the advantages that come with aging. It’s a great time to get involved in meaningful activities, reconnect with friends and family, make new connections, and stay physically active. All of these things, in turn, can improve one’s quality of life and aging.
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