Are you aged over 50, and you have started noticing some changes in the power of your memory? Suddenly, you just cannot remember things as you used to when you were a little younger. Maybe, you go to the kitchen, but cannot tell what took you there, or cannot remember a familiar name when conversing with peers and friends. Well, while this might not be unusual among older adults, it could be frustrating.
Even though memory lapse tendencies may develop at any given age, they are more pronounced with age, and our disappointment and frustration are even higher when we are older since such behavior is feared to be a dementia symptom or even potential intellectual function loss. When you grow older, it is obvious that you start fearing that you could be developing Alzheimer’s disease.
If you have been in this situation, there is good news for you. Keeping good health habits is your gateway to better cognitive function.
But first, it is important that you understand the potential risk factors which are causing you memory lapses and their potential remedies. Today, I seek to share with you such knowledge. Hopefully, it will be fun learning what could be holding down your memory ability.
Age-related cognitive decline risk factors and their remedies
1. Reduced Physical Exercise
After spending your youth leading a busy life, you now tend to live a less active life. While this is purely normal, it has dire effects on your memory. When you get older, your muscles are more relaxed since you are not involved in any dangerous physical activity which affects your mind power.
A reduction in physical activity reduces the count of tiny blood vessels responsible for the circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the brain sections which enhance thought and memory. Further, reduced activity means lower nerve cell production and reduced synapse (brain cell) interconnection. As a result, reduced activity due to old age means a less efficient, adaptive, and plastic brain. This, in turn, translates to reduced brain performance in older adults.
Physical activity also enhances your cholesterol levels, lowers your blood pressure, minimizes mental stress, and improves blood sugar balance – all these enhances heart and brain functionality.
Adopting an active leisure lifestyle could significantly improve your cognitive function (1).
Therefore, ensure that you take part in physical, mental, and social activities as a means of delaying your cognitive decline rate. More active leisure translates to a reduced cognitive decline rate.
What are some of the activities which can make you spend your leisure actively?
Social: ensure that you pay your friends and family regular visits. You may also call or send them emails regularly. Going to the cinema and taking part in volunteer work are other viable social activities which may improve your cognitive ability in old age.
Mental: try quizzes, games, and puzzles. Equally, adding up or reading your shopping bill while picking all you need in the supermarket could help.
Physical: completing some housework and gardening chores is essential. Also, consider a 30-minute walk daily, and some sitting and chair-based workouts.
2. Lack of Quality Sleep
How can you describe your sleeping habits? Do you have just enough sleep? Do you have a high-quality sleep? Do you under or oversleep? These are some critical questions you need to ask yourself if you regularly experience reduced cognitive function. Low sleep quality is a potential risk factor for low mental ability.
At an older age, you are most likely to stay awake through the night as a result of mental stress, or you could potentially sleep longer than it is recommended. Remember, for an adult, a total of eight hours of sleep gives you optimum mental functionality.
Research has implicated poor sleep quality in reduced cognitive function. Indeed, poor sleep only serves to worsen your cognitive ability, especially if you have suffered a cognitive decline-related complication (2).
Ensure that you have a quality sleep to enhance your cognitive function. Firstly, you get to promote your cognitive function when you have adequate sleep. Mainly, taking a daytime nap helps to reduce your risk for decline in cognitive function.
However, take care to ensure that daytime naps do not affect the length of your nighttime sleep to six hours or below as this could trigger a cognitive decline.
Research also shows that having longer-than-recommended sleep duration and low-quality sleep trigger a poorer memory in both males and females aged above 65 (3).
This research recommends that you should have approximately eight hours of nighttime sleep. Indeed, sleep disturbance during early adulthood impairs your mental ability in later life. This serves to imply the role of sleep quality on your cognitive ability.
3. Poor Nutrition
I hate to say this, some older people are also poor eaters. Older people may feel like they do not have the time to observe their diet. However, diet is one of the most important things for older people.
How vital can nutrition be?
Proper nutrition and a balanced diet are good for your body and mind. As you age, your ability to stick to a balanced diet diminishes. After all, you don’t have the energy to face the hassles of a balanced diet.
However, diet plays a significant role in determining one’s cognitive agility and function. For example, a Mediterranean diet is rich in unsaturated oils, nuts, fish, veggies, fruits, and plant protein which have minimal chances of triggering dementia and cognitive impairment.
How does poor diet affect cognitive function among the elderly? Poor and imbalanced diet promoted LDL cholesterol in the body. This type of cholesterol is bad, and it is associated with higher dementia risk.
How do you fight bad cholesterol? It’s simple: avoid tobacco, exercise regularly, and control your weight (4).
Should you add chia seed to your diet?
Chia seeds are a must for your diet if you wish to keep cognitive decline at bay. Chia seeds are rich in essential nutrients for your brain. These seeds have a sufficient omega-3 fatty acid content which is utilized by the brain to manufacture DHA fatty acid. DHA is critical for efficient brain function.
Chia seeds also contain proteins which carry all the nine essential amino acid content which serves to stabilize the mood and trigger optimal brain function. Additionally, there are effective antioxidants present in chia seeds. These antioxidants help in the fight against free radicals, thereby minimizing oxidative damage caused to your brain cells.
Equally, chia seeds make an excellent glucose source. Such glucose is released slowly for utilization to provide energy to the brain. Thus, adding chia seeds to your diet means brain empowerment.
What about flax seeds?
Just like chia seeds, flax seeds are an excellent omega-3 fatty acid content for better overall brain health. These seeds protect your memory and boost cognitive function.
Research published in the Gerontology Experimental Journal reveals that supplementation of omega-3s is an efficient way of promoting mild protection against cognitive impairment that comes with age. These nutrients play a critical role in improving your mood and cognitive function (5).
Therefore, add flax seeds to your diet for better complex cortical processes, mood, and attention.
4. Vitamin E Deficiency
Research shows the efficacy of vitamin E in protecting against cognitive decline. Notably, vitamin E minimizes age-related mental decline.
The tocotrienols present in vitamin E play a critical role in the provision of protective effect on the brain, its cells, and neurons. Vitamin E does this through its antioxidant characteristics. These characteristics enable the cells to withstand the oxidative effect of free radicals. Oxidative stress in on the increase during older age, and it has been regarded as a potential neurodegeneration boost.
Studies reveal that the presence of high levels of vitamin E in the plasma enhances cognitive performance (6).
Therefore, provide the body with adequate vitamin E to counter age-related cognitive decline.
The antioxidant vitamin E properties may delay or prevent cognitive decline among Alzheimer’s disease patients. Sunflower, spinach, avocado, and almonds are foods that will provide you with adequate vitamin E if added to your diet.
Remember, the brain will change as it ages. As a result, changes that reduce your mental agility and performance are bound to occur. While such mental decline is common, you can still minimize your fear of mental decline associated with age. An effective sleep routine, more physical activity, and a balanced diet are your tricks to better cognitive function at old age.
Name: Amelia Johnson
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Amelia is a writer/editor with an endless passion for bringing a lot of useful and trustworthy information to the community. She founded stayhealthyways.com, a blog dedicated to sharing quality articles related to health, nutrition, fitness, and beauty. As a typical introvert, Amelia is a perfectionist in work. At times of leisure, she reads, listens to music, chats with some close friends and walks with her pet.