Cognitive Decline 101
Cognitive decline can be scary, and when it starts happening, you may not even realize it. Another term for this is cognitive impairment, and it can occur when a person has Alzheimer’s or some other dementia diagnosis.
There are rare cases of young adults in their late 20’s and 30’s who start developing signs and symptoms of cognitive decline. This is a scary thought, and there are some very transparent characteristics of someone who is beginning to decline.
What is Cognitive Decline?
This is not a disease or a virus, but something that happens naturally with age. We can slow it down or speed it up depending on what our lifestyle is. WebMD states that most commonly, people associate cognitive decline with age because it is known to cause memory loss and forgetfulness. However, this can also happen in young adults who abuse drugs and alcohol, or even infants who don’t get enough nutrients (Mayo Clinic). Early onset Alzheimer’s is dementia that afflicts people of younger ages.
The Difference Between MCI and Cognitive Decline
What is MCI
MCI stands for mild cognitive impairment and is the stage right before cognitive decline. It is where you are starting to forget, but you’re still very aware of the slipups. Here are the main symptoms of MCI.
Forgetfulness – Most of the time, there are good days, where there may be lots of memories bubbling through the mind. However, there are other days when everything is forgotten. There is trouble getting around their own home, or in areas, they have full knowledge of. They forget important dates like anniversaries or birthdays.
Thoughts – The streamline of thinking gets broken easily. They will be talking, thinking, and go blank. Eventually, they will snap back out of it.
Overwhelmed – Something simple that someone once enjoyed doing may become an overwhelming task that is anxiety-inducing.
Family – The family is always some of the first to notice the slight changes; the young ones may become annoyed; the older ones may start to worry. It is essential to have open communication during this stage. MCI could be the best stage to have someone move in to help around the house or figure out alternative plans for the future.
Symptoms of Cognitive Decline
The most common symptom is memory loss and is associated with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Though this happens with age, it can be slowed down. Here are some symptoms of cognitive decline.
Judgement – When someone has cognitive decline, rational thinking does not rule the brain. They may become more impulsive, their judgment may become weak, and actions may not make sense anymore.
Forgetting – This is the stage where most things are not remembered. Everything goes in the blink of the eye, and they no longer know where they are even in their own home.
Anger – When someone forgets and finds themselves in a strange place every day, it can cause anxiety and fear. This can make them act out violently.
Motor Functions – When this stage gets severe, there may be a lack of proper motor functions. This can mean they can’t do things on their own anymore
Identity – They may not know who they are anymore. They won’t know their name; they won’t know their children. Any memories will fly out their brains, into their ears, and onto the floor. This is the most severe case of cognitive decline.
How to Stop It from Happening?
Cognitive decline is something that happens naturally with age, and there is no cure. If you are a young adult who abuses drugs, there may be a chance of relearning who you are, but it has not yet been proven. Though not guaranteed, there are many things you can do to stay healthy, which can affect your body in positive ways.
- Exercise – When you keep your body healthy, your mind will remain healthy too. This isn’t a sure way to keep your memory or cognitive abilities from slipping, but it may help. It is also an excellent way to stay mobile.
- Nutrition – Having a well-rounded diet can make a world of difference. Our food is so processed it has loads of chemicals that our bodies do not need.
- Avoid Drugs – This also includes alcohol. These substances can speed up the process instead of slowing it down.
- Games – Play games like puzzles, Sudoku, and crosswords. These can help stimulate your brain and help prevent slipups in memory.
There is no sure way to keep cognitive decline from happening but focusing on being healthy can change a situation. The healthier you are, the more you may be able to avoid or prolong it.