5 Ways to Maintain Healthy Cognitive Ability as You Age
You want to stay sharp as you get older, we get it. Everyone hopes to age gracefully and enjoy their golden years full of new experiences and good memories. But as you know, this doesn’t always happen. Some people, as they grow in years, lose mental clarity and ability. Often this happens so gradually that it’s like watching hair grow—a loss of cognitive ability isn’t even noticed until it’s too late to do much about it.
But don’t worry, there is plenty of good news.
There are scientific, practical ways to help you maintain optimal brain health as you get older. As a health and industry leader in cognitive and physical performance, Aviv Clinics provides valuable, research-backed information to help you control your cognitive ability long into your twilight years.
5 Categories of Cognitive Skills You Want to Maintain
When we talk about cognitive ability, what we’re referring to is a set of seven skills that work together to help you in your daily life:
- Short-term memory
- Long-term memory
- Attention—sustained, selective, and divided
- Processing speed, including visual and auditory
- Logic and reasoning
Our brains can do brilliant and beautiful things! We simply need to nurture their natural abilities, so we can slow (or prevent) mental decline.
How to Improve Cognition – Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
Knowing how to improve cognitive skills is the first step toward achieving your goal of staying sharp and full of life for many years to come.
First, are you at risk of cognitive decline as you age?
- Do you have depression?
- Are you lacking sufficient mental activity?
- Are you avoiding physical exercise?
- Would your doctor consider you obese?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Have you been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes?
- Are you a smoker?
To significantly lower your risk of cognitive decline, follow your doctor’s orders and incorporate these five must-have lifestyle adjustments to enhance your cognitive ability.
1. Sink Your Teeth into a Delicious Mediterranean Diet
Good nutrition goes a long way in maintaining a healthy brain and body. Studies show an association between high adherence to a Mediterranean diet and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A Mediterranean diet entails:
Eating plenty of:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fish and seafood
- Nuts and legumes
- Whole grains
- Unsaturated oils (extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil)
Eating in moderation:
- Red meat
- Refined grains
- Added sugar
- Highly processed foods
Read MIND Your Diet for Better Brain Health for some very interesting and informative guidance from an AVIV dietician, Kathryn Parker, RD, LD/N.
2. Increase Brain Metabolism through the Heart, Muscles, and Mind
Research links moderate exercise to increased brain metabolism and improved overall cognition. Exercise need not be too strenuous, but getting the heart rate up, building muscle, and pumping oxygen through your lungs and blood is very beneficial to your mental health. Physical activity can also improve heart conditions (one of the sources of cognitive decline).
Great examples of moderate physical activity include:
- Jogging or brisk walking, especially up an incline or in the sand
- Stretching morning and night
- Gardening and other household tasks
- Cycling either on a stationary bike or along a path
- Tai chi and yoga
- Playing outside with your children or grandchildren
If you’re an athlete who wants to up your game, Aviv will help you achieve your physical goals. Watch the stories of success.
3. Don’t Let Stress Induce Deleterious Effects
If not managed, chronic stress often impairs memory retrieval and information acquisition, even inducing deleterious effects on brain structure and cognition. To help you bounce back from a stressful situation, consider:
- Engaging in physical activity
- Writing your thoughts in a journal
- Getting more sleep—it’s in the downtime that the brain flushes toxins out and cleans itself, allowing the repair you need from spikes of stress
- Doing relaxation techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises
Learn about the stress response, how it affects the brain, and why it can be a good thing when managed properly.
4. Actively Build Neural Pathways
Identify hobbies or activities that keep your mind engaged. For example, one study discovered older adults who took up new body-connected activities that worked the brain in new ways experienced more memory improvement than those who did not.
Here are a few ideas when wondering how to improve your cognitive skills:
- Learn a new language and travel to where you can use it.
- Begin quilting or other detail-oriented crafts.
- Study photography, take pictures, edit them, and share.
- Try reflective therapy, like journaling, to revisit past negative memories and rewrite them more positively (“what I’ve learned” or “how it made me grow”).
- Invest (especially mentally and physically) into your child’s or grandchild’s hobby. Do they play lacrosse? Learn the rules of play and volunteer for the team. Do they have a knack for mathematics? Be their study buddy.
Here’s how to improve cognitive ability by having fun and building brain power with novelty and challenge.
5. Stay in Touch with Your Trusted Physician
It’s essential to discuss cognitive decline with a trusted physician. The more you understand how your health can affect your brain function, the more you can do to safeguard your cognitive vitality. Discuss your options and advocate for yourself to get next-level care that will keep you healthier for the long term.
Fight Cognitive Decline with Aviv
Maintaining your overall health is beneficial for the longevity of your life. Fight cognitive decline with the Aviv Medical Program. Every person’s body and health are unique, and your medical treatment program should reflect that.
Aviv is the leader in brain performance—our program will keep your brain at its best. Our diverse team of medical professionals will provide the customized attention you need to maintain optimal cognitive health and reverse cognitive decline.
Contact us to learn how we can help.
Life After a Diagnosis of Cognitive Decline: What Now?
Whether you have received a diagnosis of mild cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, exploring the possible causes is the first step in moving forward.
Symptoms like forgetting where you have placed your glasses, frequently asking the same question, or failing to recognize familiar people may have led you to seek medical attention. Perhaps your family noticed changes in your mood or personality and urged you to see a doctor. Being evaluated and having a diagnosis may be initially disconcerting and stressful, but how you proceed from here will determine your best outcome.
Often, what may be causing the cognitive issues is something controllable and treatable such as high blood pressure, high blood sugars, stress, anxiety, medications, or drug and alcohol use. No matter what is behind the decline, the key is addressing those things that can be controlled and treated, and then choosing a healthier lifestyle going forward.
What is cognitive decline?
Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life. It can range from mild to severe, escalating to the point where the person loses the ability to comprehend, write, or speak. At that stage, a person can no longer live independently.
Age is the greatest risk factor for cognitive impairment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16 million people in the United States are living with cognitive impairment. An estimated 5.1 million Americans aged 65 and older currently have Alzheimer’s disease, the most well-known form of cognitive impairment; this number may rise to 13.2 million by 2050, the CDC reports.
Stress and anxiety will most certainly follow on the heels of a diagnosis. Learning to cope in healthy ways will be crucial because stress and anxiety can worsen symptoms of cognitive decline. You may be tempted to isolate because you fear being embarrassed by your condition or want to hide your frustration when you are challenged to remember. However, do not shy away from being challenged. Do just the opposite.
Interact even more and engage in things that bring you joy. How you proceed after diagnosis could slow the progression or alter the trajectory of the disease.
Here are six things to do immediately no matter the diagnosis:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, good proteins and healthy fats, and limit those foods that contain saturated fats like butter and cheese. Some examples of brain-beneficial foods include coffee, blueberries, nuts, dark chocolate, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines. Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which the brain uses to build brain and nerve cells, and are essential for learning new things and storing memories.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Whenever you exercise, you are pumping more blood to your brain tissues, and with that comes a lot of oxygen and other nutrients vital for the brain’s functioning. Walking or swimming are great ways to get oxygen-rich blood pumping to the brain.
- Challenge your brain daily with activities that keep it stimulated like doing puzzles, taking quizzes, and reading content you enjoy. They help exercise the brain, enhance creativity, improve problem solving, and may slow memory decline.
- Get adequate sleep. Stay away from things that may overstimulate your body like tea or coffee before bedtime. Put down your phone or computer a couple of hours before bedtime so you can decompress naturally and slowly. Sleep allows your body to cleanse the brain of toxins and waste. Getting enough is essential.
- Find a good support system. It will be critical to build a good support system now that you have received a diagnosis. Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a family member, or a support group, having a connection with someone who cares about you and knows what you’re going through can keep you from feeling alone.
- Manage stress. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol will only worsen the symptoms of cognitive decline. Instead, try journaling, prayer, meditation, exercise, or whatever works to calm your inner spirit and reduce your stress load.
In some people, mild cognitive impairment can be reversed or remain stable, especially if it is linked to a medication. For others with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the outlook can be harder to swallow since both are progressive conditions, and symptoms will eventually worsen. However, making lifestyle changes like healthy eating and exercising may slow the rate of progression.
The bottom line
Maintaining healthy lifestyle choices, including proper nutrition, exercise, social and cognitive activities, and adequate sleep, may help prevent or delay cognitive decline. For those who receive a diagnosis, the best approach moving forward is to cherish every moment of clarity, enjoy every day you are gifted, and maintain as many healthy choices as possible to slow down the disease.
As leaders in brain performance, the experts at Aviv Clinics understand the impact that a diagnosis of cognitive decline can have. The scientifically proven protocols of the Aviv Medical Program are designed to maintain your cognitive health and even improve the early biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
Contact us to schedule a free phone consultation with a client ambassador and learn more about how the Aviv Medical Program can help optimize your brain health and performance.
Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treat Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease ranks as the most common tick-borne illness in many parts of the world, including the United States, Europe and Asia. It’s also among the hardest to treat, with many patients getting little relief from common treatments that involve antibiotics.
As many as 300,000 may get Lyme Disease each year in the U.S. alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Untreated Lyme Disease can lead many symptoms, including fever, rash, facial paralysis and arthritis.
Recent research has found that hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) can treat Lyme Disease and may prove especially effective for those who are resistant to other treatments.
Aviv Clinic currently offers personalized HBOT protocols at the clinic in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), Dubai, U.A.E.
Currently, Aviv doctors are seeing success with treatment of Lyme patients who have received antibiotics for at least 10 years without significant improvement. The patients report feeling better than they have in years and in some cases have stopped taking antibiotics.
The Biology and Impact of Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is caused by the spirochete B. burgdorferi, a microaerophilic organism carried by the Deer tick and transferred to humans through the tick’s bite. Symptoms typically start with a bullseye rash and erythema migrans, a slightly raised lesion at the point of the tick bite. They then can advance to joint and muscle pain, sore throat, fever, swollen glands and mental fogginess.
If not diagnosed within the first month or two, the disease may become a chronic infection. Research shows it becomes sequestered in cells which protect it from effective treatment.
Recent autopsy reports have shown how ineffective antibiotics can prove in some cases. They found that the spirochete continues to live in the human body in multiple areas, including the inferior wall of the heart, tendons, muscle tissue and in the brain.
Previous autopsy reports on beagles and rhesus monkeys produced similar findings, even after they had received 15 to 20 years of antibiotics. Resistance to antibiotics comes from plasmids, including the Spire key that causes Lyme disease. Also, a biofilm protects both the spirochete and spirochetal DNA.
HBOT’s Impact on Lyme Disease
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment involves the inhalation of 100% pure oxygen while sitting in a hyperbaric suite which is pressurized with air to above atmospheric levels. During these sessions, oxygen levels in the body’s tissues rise to 10-15 times over that of normal conditions. In the 1990s, researchers at Texas A&M University found that HBOT treatments proved effective in treating Lyme Disease, because the higher pressurized atmosphere produced oxygen levels that killed off the bacterium that cause the disease. Chinese researchers also reported that they eliminated Lyme disease symptoms in a patient from Taiwan using HBOT treatments after treatments using antibiotics had failed.
Treatments at Aviv Clinic increases inter vascular oxygen concentration to 1,500 times more than normal diffusion into the regular tissues, including the protective biofilm, eradicating the spirochaetes. The results with current patients indicate the spirochete that causes Lyme disease cannot live in an oxygen-rich environment.
HBOT treats many of the neurological conditions associated with Lyme Disease, leading to less fatigue, better energy, more sleep and less joint pain. HBOT also supports maintaining healthy cognitive function as we age and our bodies become less efficient at processing oxygen. HBOT enhances both brain and body performance by boosting patient’s access to oxygen.
In addition to the potential for treating Lyme Disease, recent research has found that HBOT reversed aging in the brain and is a successful treatment for anoxic brain injury patients.
For more information about Aviv Clinic’s specialized treatment for Lyme disease, please contact the clinic.