Three Steps to Prevent Cognitive Decline

May 4, 2015
Physical activity helps with cognitive ability.

Physical activity increases cognitive ability.

A recently released report from the Institute of Medicine highlights three key steps that individuals can take to help prevent cognitive decline and subsequent memory loss. Entitled “Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action,” the report “assesses the state of knowledge about cognitive aging” and offers insights in numerous areas concerning aging and cognitive function.

The report was funded by a variety of sources, including the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, AARP, the Retirement Research Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Con­trol and Prevention.   It was created by a committee that included some of the leading neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and brain health experts in the U.S.

Action steps

The report explores three broad steps that individuals can take to help prevent cognitive decline and memory loss.  These are actions that have been recommended before; this report presents them as having been thoroughly vetted by scientific research supports claims that they are effective.

Those steps are:

  • Be physically active.
  • Reduce and manage cardiovascular disease risk factors (including hypertension, diabe­tes, and smoking).
  • Regularly discuss and review health con­ditions and medications that may influ­ence cognitive health with a health care professional.

In addition, the committee suggested three other steps for which there is “some scientific evidence to suggest positive effects on cognitive health.”

These three steps are:

  • Be socially and intellectually engaged, and continually seek opportunities to learn.
  • Get adequate sleep and receive treatment for sleep disorders as needed.
  • Take steps to avoid the risks of cognitive changes due to delirium if hospitalized.

These are all recommendations that have been put forward by many experts in the field who want to help individuals ward off memory loss or to help reduce the rate of cognitive decline in their patients. Having these suggestions in one report and backed up by the expert opinion of some of the leading practitioners in the field gives them special credibility. Hopefully, more and more people will take this advice to help stem memory loss issues as they age.

Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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