What is Cognitive Decline?
Cognitive decline is the gradual loss of brain function, loss of memory, and shrinking of the brain mass. This can lead to confusion or to the diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. The symptoms of cognitive decline are subtle and may only be noticeable to the patients. If you notice that your symptoms are getting worse, contact your local physician.
Types of Cognitive Decline
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
MCI’s are in the middle of the spectrum between cognitive decline that comes with aging and on the other, more serious end, dementia. Symptoms of an MCI include problems with memory, speech, and the ability to think clearly.
Subjective Cognitive Impairment (SCI)
SCI is a form of cognitive impairment in which you experience frequent confusion and memory loss. An SCI can also be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Neurocognitive Disorders (NCDs)
An NCD differs from other types of cognitive decline because it affects more than one cognitive domain. A neurocognitive disorder not only affects your memory and perception, but speech, your social cognition abilities, and your attention span.
What are the Symptoms of Cognitive Decline?
Slower Thought Process
Our brain processing speed indicates the rate at which we can absorb new information, make a judgment, and develop a response. As we get older, our ability to process information lessens. The cognitive decline in our brain processing speed can be caused by the aging of or a traumatic insult to the brain. Maintaining a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and mentally stimulating your brain can all help to improve the functionality of your brain.
Memory loss is part of the aging process. However, if memory loss is affecting your capacity to complete everyday tasks, it may be something more a symptom of cognitive decline. Signs of memory loss include:
- Telling the same story or asking the same question repeatedly
- Forgetting the names of loved ones
- Having trouble finding your words
- Inability to stay focused
Similar to the improvement of brain processing speed, you can help improve your memory loss by exercising at least twice a week, eating a healthy diet, getting a good night’s rest, and avoiding drinking and smoking.
When you have brain fog, you will notice that it is difficult to complete tasks. The term “brain fog” refers to your mind feeling cloudy and unclear when you are trying to think. Things such as communicating, whether this is verbal or written, decision making, loss of concentration, forgetfulness, and fatigue are just a few of the symptoms of cognitive decline due to brain fog.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, get in touch with a BHR specialist today to discuss treatment.
What You Can Do to Improve These Symptoms
There are a couple of things you can do to improve the symptoms of cognitive decline, they include:
Eat a balanced diet – Incorporate foods that are rich in omega 3-fatty acids, antioxidants, and B vitamins.
- Leafy Greens – Kale, spinach, and broccoli contain nutrients such as vitamin K, folates, and beta carotenes.
- Fish – It is recommended that you eat fish 1-2 times a week. Salmon, tuna, and cod are all fairly low in mercury and contain lots of omega 3-fatty acids.
- Fruits & Berries – Strawberries and blueberries contain flavonoids. Flavonoids are what give your fruits and berries their beautiful, bright coloring; and have also been known to help with improved memory function.
- Coffee – Research has shown that people who drink caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee has a positive effect on your mental focus and functionality.
Keeping up with a regular exercise routine can help improve your cognitive functioning. Research has shown that adults who spend at least an hour to an hour and a half participating in some sort of physical activity, had better glucose metabolism. Not only does exercise work to improve cognitive function, but it also helps strengthen the parts of your brain that deal with reasoning.
Stimulate Your Brain
It is important to mentally stimulate your brain. Here are a couple of ways to do so:
- Continue learning new things – This can be as simple as reading a book, reading or writing a blog about a topic of interest, attending seminars, or watching informational or inspirational videos.
- Take Up a New Hobby – Similar to learning new things, you can stimulate your brain by picking up a new hobby.
- Remember that Alone Time is Healthy – While it may seem odd, it is healthy to have that alone time. Time for you to relax, reflect, and remove yourself from distractions.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
If you experience trouble with falling asleep, staying asleep, or just poor sleep quality in general, these are potential risks associated with cognitive decline or impairment. To learn more about sleep and how you can get a better night’s sleep, check out our blog.