Signs Your Cognitive Function is Declining
As we get older, our brain goes through some changes. Sometimes, this can cause issues with memory or thinking. This article talks about the main signs of cognitive decline, the main causes, and what we can do to help prevent them.
How the Brain Changes as We Age
As we get older, we might start noticing a few shifts in how our thinking works. Our minds could take a bit more time to process thoughts, multitasking might not come as easily, and recalling things or finding the right words can be more challenging.1
Some parts of our brain, like the hippocampus, frontal lobe, and temporal lobe, tend to shrink a bit as we age. Scientists believe this may contribute to these age-related changes in thinking.1
Signs of Cognitive Decline
Some mild cognitive decline is considered a normal part of the aging process. This typically involves subtle changes in thinking speed and attention. 1
When cognitive decline is greater than expected for someone’s age, education, or development, they may have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. 1
In these conditions, cognitive decline is more severe and may include other thinking abilities such as rapid forgetting or difficulties solving problems.1
The symptoms can differ from person to person. Some signs you may be experiencing cognitive decline include:1,2
- You’re forgetting things more often.
- You’re missing appointments or social events.
- Your thoughts slip away more frequently.
- Keeping track of a conversation or recalling the right word is getting a bit challenging.
- Making decisions, completing tasks, and sticking to instructions is becoming more challenging.
- Getting around places you're familiar with is becoming tricky.
- Your ability to make sound judgments is starting to waver.
- You’re having mood swings or mental health issues such as depression, or anxiety.
- You’re losing interest in activities you used to enjoy.
- You’re starting to show aggressive or inappropriate behaviors.
- You’re having more difficulty eating or chewing.
- You start stumbling or losing your balance, misjudging distances, tripping over stuff at home, or dropping and spilling things more than usual.
- These changes might catch the attention of your family and friends.
Consulting a specialized healthcare professional can help figure out if what you're experiencing is a significant cognitive decline or just part of the normal aging process. They can give you a clearer picture based on your situation.
What Causes Cognitive Decline?
It’s expected for our cognitive abilities to change as we age, but MCI and dementia cause a greater impairment in our cognitive skills.2
MCI falls in between the memory changes that come with regular aging and the more severe cognitive decline observed in dementia.2
There’s no single cause of MCI. The condition typically involves the same brain changes seen in Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, which include: 2
- Clumps of beta-amyloid protein and tangles of tau proteins. These changes are also seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Microscopic clumps of a protein called Lewis bodies. These clamps are linked to other conditions, like Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and Alzheimer's.
- Small strokes or reduced blood flow through brain blood vessels.
- Increased age.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
- Lack of mentally or socially stimulating activities.
- Genetic background.
How to Prevent or Slow Down Cognitive Decline
While there’s no proven way to prevent MCI or dementia, research indicates that making certain lifestyle changes can boost brain health. Follow these tips:1,2
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
- Limit exposure to air pollution.
- Practice physical activity at a moderate pace regularly.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Engage in activities you enjoy. Whether it's walking, gardening, painting, or any hobbies that keep your mind active and free of stress.
- Stay socially active and create strong support networks.
- Make sure to schedule regular check-ups.
- Practice sleep hygiene and get enough sleep.
You can also try Daiwa Brain Health, a dietary supplement that may help reduce neuroinflammation and the accumulation of amyloid β* in brain cells.* ( - *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.)
Cognitive decline is a normal part of the aging process. However, there are things we can do to slow this down and keep our brains in good shape such as adopting healthy lifestyle and taking good care of our body and mind.