Dementia can cause deficiencies in memory, problem-solving, and cognition that interfere with daily life. While this deficiency can be caused by multiple diseases, the most common neurodegenerative disorders are Alzheimer’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia. Each is caused by progressive damage to nerve cells loss due to premature nerve death.
Not all aging adults will experience dementia, but cognitive abilities tend to decline as we age due to normal neuronal deterioration – even for healthy adults. This age-related cognitive decline can affect quality of life, independence, and even physical health in some situations. Fortunately, research has uncovered valuable new discoveries that have the potential to slow the aging processes associated with cognitive decline.
Recent studies have found that the klotho protein has specific neuroprotective qualities that hold the potential to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. The klotho protein is found naturally in the human body and research shows that increasing klotho levels is able to enhance cognition in mice. There are likely similar effects for humans. Klotho therapy is an exciting new solution that could help support sustained cognition and mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.
While research is promising, there is still a lot of work to be done. In the meantime, there are a number of steps in your day-today life that you can take now to slow cognitive decline and reduce its overall effects.
1. Maintain Healthy Physical Activity
Research shows that, in addition to other health benefits like preventing heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, maintaining an active lifestyle can help protect you from experiencing cognitive decline. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease indicated that regular exercise, including gardening and walking prevented a decrease in the brain’s gray matter in both cognitively impaired and healthy individuals. In addition, regular exercise appeared to slow volume loss in other areas of the brain.
2. Consume Healthy Fats
While a healthy diet is advisable for aging adults for numerous reasons, research shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can help slow age-related cognitive decline. In particular, increasing intake of omega-3 lipids found in cold-water, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as nuts and seeds and plant oils like flaxseed and canola oils, has a positive effect on memory. Researchers believe that omega-3 oils may reduce production of the plaque-causing proteins that can cause excessive neuronal burden.
3. Get the Suggested Amount of Quality Sleep
The body relies on restful hours to maintain overall health and quality sleep may help to prevent cognitive decline. Researchers have found that aging adults who regularly fail to achieve the recommended hours of sleep tend to score lower on cognitive tests. In addition, cognitive functions and memory may be linked to learning processes that take place while the body is at rest.
4. Maintain Positive Relationships
Studies show that people who maintain healthy, active bonds with friends and family and experience regular social interactions are less likely to experience cognitive decline. Maintaining relationships requires you to regularly utilize critical mental processes like memory and processing, which helps to exercise your cognitive skills. By contrast, individuals who maintain a solitary existence are more likely to experience depression, which directly correlates to cognitive decline.
5. Train Your Brain
In the same way that social interactions allow you to exercise important parts of the brain and strengthen your cognitive abilities, participating in certain mental stimulation activities may have a similar effect. Activities like Sudoku and puzzles can help strengthen the neural connections necessary to retain cognition. Some studies have even indicated that certain video games may help slow cognitive decline.
While some degree of cognitive decline may be inevitable as we age, there’s no reason that severe memory loss is a necessary side effect of growing older. These five tips can not only positively affect your physical health but can help reduce cognitive decline. Taken together, they may just help formulate a recipe for a happy, healthy life well into old age.