As we age, cognitive impairment is common, but for those who do not experience these conditions, you can still experience subtle changes associated with aging. It is important to distinguish between these normal cognitive changes as opposed to disease states, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
Normal neurocognitive impairment in aging can affect your ability for conceptual reasoning, memory and processing speed. What we find, is problem solving and reasoning are independent of what has been learned through a lifetime of experiences, so are affected more than before.
In disease states a person may experience episodes of confusion or disorientation, the inability to remember correct words, or understand simple words, losing or misplacing objects, changes in mood and, as it worsens may forget where they live or what they are doing at a given point in time.
So, what changes?
There are a number of factors involved in structural and functional brain alterations which can include;
- Reduction in grey matter, or a decrease in neurons and their functionality causing infrequent cell division
- Beta-amyloid plaque build-up, enhanced by the body’s inability to clear accumulation
- Neural pathways, connections and synaptic density decreases
- Reduction in neurotransmitter levels
- Reduced ability to repair after brain injuries, such as after a stroke
How can you delay it?
- Lifestyle changes – social isolation is a key contributing factor to the development of AD. Continuous involvement in community and social activities, travel and attending cultural events can all help to delay onset.
- Physical activities – exercise, gardening, dancing
- Intellectually engaging activities – puzzles, reading, board games, playing a musical instrument engages varying areas of the brain.
- Diet – are you getting enough choline? Polyphenols? How do you metabolise fats? Are you feeding your body enough macronutrients to assist combating oxidative stress? There are a huge amount of dietary changes that you can implement to ensure healthy aging and healthy cognition in your later years. We encourage anyone to investigate our comprehensive DNA reports, particularly around nutrigenomics, mood and cognition for personalised answers!
- Supplementation – do you know glutathione helps reduce stress and toxicity and provides antioxidant protection to the brain? There are an array of vitamins and minerals required for optimal health, and you may just need a top up to help you along the way.
- Herbs – such as nigella sativa, which contains thymoquinone protects the liver, boosts glutathione and superoxide dismutase which are powerful antioxidants in reducing inflammation of the brain
There are many ways in which alternative therapies, such as naturopathy are helping patients with complex neurodegenerative disease diagnosis. Better yet, if you don’t have a diagnosis then we can help you implement healthier lifestyle options to see you age gracefully and prevent, or delay the onset of cognitive decline. There’s no time like the present to start!