A decrease in cognitive function is a natural part of getting older. Changes in physiology and brain make-up, including alterations in hormones, mean sometimes brain lapses can occur and function can be affected. For most people however, despite their age, this does not indicate severe cognitive issues, and memory loss is not inevitable, simply because one gets older.
In contrast cognitive memory decline or mild cognitive impairment, is a cognitive impairment that affects specific areas of the brain. In fact, when doctors diagnose this issue among patients, they do so based on the thinking areas that are impacted. Mild cognitive impairment is classified as one of two types:
The impacts from either of these types of cognitive decline can be as simple as forgetting to go to a weekly appointment or forgetting about a phone call, to as severe as forgetting one’s address, or how to get home. For those individuals who are classified with MCI, with age, it typically worsens, and some people are unable to remember the names and faces of family members or how to perform daily functioning tasks like showering and cleaning the dishes.
While not guaranteed, for many people what starts out as MCI, unfortunately ends in the onset of Alzheimers or dementia, a far more serious version of cognitive decline that has no cure, and often leaves the individual unable to live or function alone, and no longer knowing their family, friends or themselves.
While nobody wants to think about losing their memory or developing Alzheimers, it is occurring at an ever increasing rate and it is important to understand what it looks like and what to do about it, as well as the risk factors that make one susceptible. Advancing age is a key factor, but it also is impacted by genetics and family history, and conditions that raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.
But before you start to get worried that forgetting something on your grocery list or forgetting your water bottle at the gym is an indication of cognitive memory decline, let’s take a few minutes to understand how decline presents itself and how it differs from normal everyday forgetfulness. Some symptoms indicative of MCI include:
While it is possible that affected individuals will also forget single items or simple to-do tasks, the difference is that most of the impacts are far more severe and have far more impactful consequences.
From a physiological perspective, a clinician can assess for cognitive memory decline in contrast to simply forgetting things more often by seeing physical changes in the brain composition. These may include:
Together, both the reported and physiological symptoms, as well as insight from family members can be used as effective means of diagnosing, and in turn addressing cognitive decline in affected individuals.
While there is no evidence to indicate that one can completely prevent the development of cognitive decline or the onset of Alzheimers, especially depending on the natural genetic make up of an individual, there is evidence to indicate that one can delay the onset and help enhance brain function well into ageing. In fact, there are many ways to do this in your every day tasks, and it can make a huge difference in the long term outcome of cognitive function with age:
In addition to increasing brain stimulating activities, dietary and health changes are also important. It is critical to consume brain foods, such as walnuts, Brazil nuts and leafy greens. Aim to maintain a healthy intake of essential fatty acids, by consuming foods such as fish and ground flaxseed. There are also selected herbs which have been shown to enhance cognitive function:
The good news is, you can take advantage of all of the brain and memory enhancing benefits of these herbs all in one place: our day blend! Created to enhance alertness, working memory and cognitive function, it is a blend of several brain boosting herbs and is a great way to improve cognitive function throughout the day.
Ready to get started on better brain function? Learn more here!