Forget Dementia. Never mind, Alzheimer’s. —For now.
Let’s talk about Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). This is age-related memory loss. Not so unique for us smack dab in the golden years. But don’t think you’ll get off easy by being around age 50 or so.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more-serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes.
Mild cognitive impairment causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals experiencing them or to other people, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily activities.
You are able to drive your car, talk to your family, take in a movie, shop for the family goods etc. In short, you are pretty much able to accomplish the tasks you have been doing for years.
Except for one thing. You know in your mind you are not the same.
You are thinking slower, forgetting more. Plainly, you just feel you are not at the top of your game.
Yes, your genes can be a factor here. Remember Uncle Harry who couldn’t recall my brother’s name when we visited him in the old folks home.
However lifestyle choices as well as genes contribute also on how sharp our memories and thinking skills stay on track.
Surprising, eating a healthful diet, getting regular exercise, stabilizing our cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, no smoking have all showed to protect memory. In the same way our muscles become stronger with use, memory and cognitive skills need strength training also.
You can teach an old dog (your brain) new tricks. Even if you an aging seasoned senior, your brain can adapt and change. Your brain has the ability to grow and improve throughout your life.
Visualizing your daily routine of living, here are some ways to keep the fire burning in your brain:
Make your daily diet a brain booster: Your body needs fuel to function properly; so does your brain. Consuming the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones will keep powering your brain to keep it fit and healthy for life.
The Mediterranean diet is ranked as one of the best diets for brain health in the world. If you thrive on fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, healthy fats– olive oil nuts, and fish, etc. then your diet will have a positive impact on your cognitive function and improved memory and attention.
Here are a few foods that recent research has hailed as self-starting memory boosters:
- Walnuts • Blueberries • Avocado • Cocoa and Chocolate • Caffeine
- Cinnamon • Peppermint tea
Stay physical: No expert ever says exercise is bad for you. Then listen up! Keep active or lose it–your body and your mind. If you want both to stay sharp, stay active.
Exercise increases oxygen in your brain, reduces your risk of heart attack and diabetes, which leads t o memory loss, decreases stress levels and increases the effect of the “good” brain chemicals.
An analysis of brain health, researchers found the aerobic activity and resistance training combined: boost brainpower. Combining moderate-intensive aerobic and resistance training for at least 45 minutes per session and at minimum three days a week will likely benefit your cognitive abilities and memory.
Nap your way to a better brain: Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to maintain both physical and mental health. Sleep helps us consolidate short-term memory to long-term memory. Skipping the recommended hours of sleep is short-circuiting the brain’ s ability to form new memories.
Latest research found in adults aged 65 and older taking an hour-long nap in the afternoon improved performance on cognitive memory compared with individuals who did not nap.
Don’t be wary of taking a power nap. It can improve your mental performance journey to enhance your brainpower.
Brain workouts: Brain –training applications are very popular. However, do they really work? Evidence suggests that they do not. They have been proven in improvement of the task at hand but they do not appear to strengthen memory, intelligence or cognitive abilities.
However there are techniques that can help you to recall information. Say remembering a person’s name you just met. These methods are called mnemonic devices.
- Method of Loci: this method is also commonly called the mental walk, or items you would like to remember along a traveled route in your car. In more basic terms, it is a method of memory enhancement that uses visualization to organize and recall large amount of information.
- Acronyms: can be used as a tool to remember anything. In the supermarket, you could use “CAKE” to help you remember that you need to buy cheese, apples, kale and eggs.
- Chunking: is a way to break down a lot of information into smaller, more manageable chunks of information. An example would be breaking down phone numbers into three chunks rather than trying to remember all 10 digits at once.
The more you exercise your brain, the easier you will find to process and remember information. Consider new workouts (leaning a language, playing a musical instrument, doing crossword puzzles, etc) to develop new brain pathways that are new and challenging. Your brain is waiting for you.
Relax your brain: You have heard all about the dangers of stress. Chronic stress hurts your brain. Over time, stress can kill brain cells, and is linked with memory loss. Managing your stress is one of the best ways to protect your memory.
Try the MMs: music and meditation. Both can be effective strategies for relieving stress and reversing in older adults with cognitive issues. One study demonstrated that meditation and listening to music over a 3-month period significantly improved subjective memory function and cognition performance.
Further, just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation and yoga per day has found to have a positive effect on mood and boost brain function.
Want to go further with this? It has been found if subjects relaxed with certain aromas like rosemary essential, they were found to score higher in memory tests than subjects who didn’t smell scented air.
In essence, your brain needs both workouts and relaxation to get the most out of improving your brain health.
If you feel you are an individual applicable for MCI, then take time to get tested to receive a benchmark for your condition. Determine if your condition is old age decline or MCI. If so, begin applying some of tips outlined here. Begin seeking professional help just as you would with a physical ailment.
MCI may increase your risk of later progressing to dementia, caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions. But some people with mild cognitive impairment never get worst and a few eventually get better.
Think about it?