There are many changes that come with aging. And worrying about cognitive decline is certainly one of them. If this is a worry of yours you are not alone. Thousands of people search the web every year to unlock the secrets to maintaining good cognitive health.
What is Cognitive Health
Cognitive health is the ability to clearly think, learn, and remember. Motor skills, sensory responses, and emotional responses may be used as indicators for healthy neurological activity.
Factors that may contribute to an individual’s cognitive health include genetics, lifestyle, and environment. Some of these influences are attributed to a decline in cognitive ability and the performance of everyday tasks.
How is Cognitive Health Different from Mental Health
Cognitive health is the physical condition of an individual’s brain. Additionally, it describes how that brain physically functions. Mental health is how we feel about things. Mental health is a subset of cognitive health. Thus, it should be monitored by your doctor. A decline in mental health may indicate a decline in cognitive health.
Why is it Important
Cognitive health is required to maintain independence. Healthy functions include attention, learning, memory, and speaking. This can also include higher functions like decision-making, planning, goal-setting, and judgment.
Most importantly, however, is the function of cognitive reserve. This is the ability to cope with damage or deterioration. People with greater cognitive reserve are better able to stave off the symptoms of an aging brain.
Some People Mentally Age Better
Though the secrets of healthy long-term cognition may still remain a mystery, there are a few things we know.
People who make it to 70 with normal cognitive scores and few signs of decline tend to stay sharp into their 90’s despite amyloid-beta plaque build-up, according to this article. In this study, scientists evaluated 100 seniors who had previously participated in another study regarding dementia.
“In the 84 participants who were cognitively normal in 2009, 26 remained that way during follow-up. Mean age at last cognitive evaluation ranged from 86 to 100.”
What Can You Do to Stay Sharp
The simplest answer is to stay aware and know what is worth worrying about and what isn’t. Lapses in memory are expected. But to keep your brain healthy as you age, you should:
- Keep cholesterol and blood pressure low
- Quit or cut down on nicotine and tobacco
- Monitor your weight to lower diet/weight risk factors
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