It’s another beautiful and sunny day here in Panama City, Florida.
It’s only expected to get into the mid 60’s today, but with the bright sunshine, it’ll feel warmer!
Happy to report that I’m still as good-lookin’ as I ever was, which is not very, and other than the lingering pain from my recent dental surgery, I’m feeling pretty dog gone good.
Sure hope you’re also healthy and having some chuckles, too.
Links Between Aging And Cognitive Decline:
Today, as the 1st installment of what I hope will be an interesting mental health series, let’s set the foundation for an ongoing discussion about the relationship between aging and cognitive decline…”
Have you ever noticed that you’re just not as sharp as you were when you were younger? Can you remember things from decades ago with crystal clarity, yet have a hard time recalling events from the past week?
If so, you may be experiencing a common link between aging, and that old devil, cognitive decline.
Some fading of our mental powers happens to both men and women as the years pile on.
Yet, some people live their entire lives with no appreciable level of mental deficiency present as they age.
But, results from studies done about aging’s effects on cognitive performance, conclude that our ability to think on the go, and make fast decisions, do weaken as we age.
Cognitive decline, due to our bodies and brains getting older, is a ‘natural growth process’, according to the medical community.
Knowing my limits, I always hope I’m not the smartest guy in the room. But I have a problem with labeling the act of losing my mind, a ‘growth process’…
Like it or not, (I don’t) over time, often beginning in our mid twenties, we all lose some degree of our ability to think and reason. And, the process usually includes a drop in our regional brain volume, among other changes.
…clear associations exist between the rate and severity of cognitive decline and a variety of factors, including oxidative stress and free radical damage, chronic low-level inflammation, declining hormone levels, endothelial dysfunction, excess body weight, suboptimal nutrition, lifestyle, social network, other medical conditions, and various biomarkers.
Fortunately, many of these factors are modifiable to a significant extent, and with proactive lifestyle changes, cognitive training, and nutritional interventions, have been shown to decrease the rate of intellectual decay and potentially reverse age-related cognitive decline…”
MCI, or Mild Cognitive Impairment:
For most of us, our mental capacities remain healthy and well maintained, well into old age. However, we could just as easily suffer from what is known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
With MCI, our cognitive abilities, like our memory and thinking skills, show noticeable measures of decline regularly enough that either we, and, or others, become aware of.
Usually though, MCI conditions aren’t severe enough to interfere with our ability to live a nearly normal life or to stop us from living independently.
The Alzheimer’s Organization has published research that suggests 10% to 20% of people 65 and older, might be suffering from MCI.
Mild cognitive impairments can begin to show up in our 50s, 60s or 70s.
The effects, and the severity, of MCI, is different for everyone. And, experts haven’t yet discovered the specific factors that determine individual levels of age-related brain functioning erosion.
The causes of fading mind powers are a myriad of possibilities.
And, they include, lack of physical exercise, side effects of medications, poor nutrition from an unhealthy diet, or by a simple lack of ‘mental exercise’.
MCI can sometimes be a precursor for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
…people who have MCI are at an increased risk of going on to develop dementia.
In studies carried out in memory clinics, 10-15 per cent of people with MCI went on to develop dementia in each year that the research results were followed up.
In other studies the rates are about half this level, but MCI still represents a significantly increased level of risk of dementia – about three to five times the risk of someone without MCI….”
Yet, many people suffering from MCI, never see their cognitive decline become substantially worse, nor have it improve.
Cognitive Decline: Known Risk Factors:
- alcohol abuse
- high homocysteine levels (amino acid)
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- type 2 diabetes
- insulin resistance
- extremely high cholesterol
As you can see, the risk factors are primarily lifestyle related, therefore controllable.
Individual severity of cognitive decline is somewhat a crapshot.
Genetics, of course, is a factor. However, lifestyle might prove more important. If so, then prevention is a realistic option.
Medications haven’t yet proven themselves as a course for reliable prevention or effective treatment. Again, lifestyle choices could make a difference in both prevention and treatment.
…Higher education, physical exercise, and mental exercise are well established as important pro-cognitive attributes and behaviors.
Dietary measures, such as high intake of fish, fruit and vegetables suggest a positive role for omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid), antioxidants (vitamin E and flavonoids), and B group vitamins such as folate, B6, and B12…”
Our takeaway from this introductory mental health overview:
Some loss of mental powers seem inevitable for most of us.
If not 100% preventable, our lifestyle choices offers our best chance for maintenance and controlling the depth of its severity.
As usual, we’ll remind you… “I don’t know anything for certain and I’ve no advice about anything. My role is reporting upon my research and sharing personal stories with you.
Still, I hope to inspire you to take personal responsibility for what’s going on in your life. And remind you that how you feel about the whole ball of wax, is also your personal responsibility.
Ideas for me, your aging related story, or comments are very welcome…