Cognitive decline is when your brain doesn’t work as well as it used to. For example, a person who is experiencing cognitive decline may have trouble learning, using language or remembering things.
Some cognitive decline is a normal part of growing older. Cognitive decline that happens quickly or that affects day-to-day activities is called dementia. Dementia may be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or head injury.
As your body ages, so does your brain. Some cognitive decline is a normal part of growing older. You can’t stop or prevent it, just as you can’t prevent other signs of normal aging. However, you can maintain your health and prevent disease by making healthy choices about your lifestyle, diet and exercise.
Yes and no. Although no one specific diet is best for brain health, eating a healthy diet is important for your overall health. Choosing foods that nourish your body and brain can help prevent or delay diseases, including those that cause dementia.
You can stay active – physically, socially and mentally. Physical activity helps prevent disease and maintain blood flow to the brain. If you don’t already exercise, try to work up to 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 times a week. Moderate activities include anything that gets your heart rate up. Walking, hiking, bicycling and swimming are all good options. Choose something you’ll like.
Social interaction helps stimulate your mind. Social activities are any activity you do with other people. It can be as simple as having lunch with a friend or walking around the block with a neighbor. Volunteer opportunities in your community or church are good ways to get involved. Or try to find a club or social group that focuses on an activity you enjoy, such as a sport, craft or hobby.
Finally, to keep your brain cells strong and active, it’s important for you to stay mentally active. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Read newspapers, books and magazines. Enroll in a class at the local community college or adult education center. Or, challenge yourself in a different way by playing games, completing puzzles or trying memory exercises.
This content was developed with general underwriting support from Nature Made®.
Alzheimer’s Association. Adopt a brain-healthy diet. Accessed November 01, 2010
Alzheimer’s Association. Brain health. Accessed November 01, 2010
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI): Lifestyle and home remedies. Accessed November 01, 2010
National Institute on Aging. A healthy diet may be important to brain health as well as body health. Accessed November 01, 2010
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff