Cognitive health is not something to take for granted. Although a certain level of memory loss can be expected as people age, when the ability to clearly think, learn and remember is compromised, those changes can affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and should serve as a cause for concern.
Brain health should be a priority for everyone. The National Institute on Aging says brain health is an umbrella term that encompasses a host of factors, including:
Cognitive health, which is how well you think, learn and remember;
Motor function, or how you make and control movements;
Tactile function, which is how you feel sensations; and
Emotional function, or how emotions are interpreted and responded to.
Individuals can safeguard brain health – particularly cognitive health – by taking a few key steps.
Be more health-conscious
Working with doctors, individuals can put their health first. This includes getting routine screenings, managing chronic health problems, limiting or avoiding alcohol and nicotine products, and getting the recommended amount of sleep each night.
Manage high blood pressure
All chronic conditions cause long-term repercussions, but the NIA indicates that observational studies show having high blood pressure in mid-life increases the risk of cognitive decline later in life. Lowering blood pressure lowers the risk for mild cognitive impairment and possibly dementia.
Challenge your brain
Harvard Medical School says nurturing social contacts, engaging in stimulating mental activities like reading and doing puzzles, seeing new places, and learning new things can help keep the brain in top form.
Stress can take its toll on the body, and there is reason to believe that it may adversely affect cognitive health as well. Make every stride to reduce stress, whether that involves taking vacations, meditating, laughing with friends and family, or engaging in relaxing activities that relieve stress.
Get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D is linked to a host of health benefits, including its potential to promote a healthy brain. Individuals can get more time outdoors to get vitamin D naturally from the sun and eat foods rich in vitamin D. If doctors find that vitamin D levels are exceptionally low, supplementation can help.
Pay attention to hearing loss
Certain hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline, says Healthline. Researchers in Italy concluded that people with central hearing loss had a higher risk of mild cognitive impairment than those with no hearing loss or peripheral hearing loss. Individuals with central hearing loss are urged to speak to their physicians to determine if they can take preventive action to stave off further decline.