When your think about aging, your thoughts go to achy joints, those digestive problems that have cropped up, maybe the blood pressure meds you have to take now. Our bodies begin to age the moment we are born; the dynamics of biology insist on that.
The brain, like every organ, is also affected as its physical structure and ability to function change. The brain is responsible for “cognition,” a term including memory, processing speed, decision making and learning. As you age, your brain functioning does as well; this is called “cognitive aging.”
Be assured that cognitive aging is not a disease. It is not dementia or Alzheimers’s disease. It’s important to know that you can promote cognitive health and learn to adapt to very normal cognitive changes that occur simply because you’ve gotten older. Six important actions to stave off the effects of cognitive aging are:
- Being physically active.
- Reducing your cardiovascular risk factors
- Managing your medications – be careful about combining meds without knowledge
- Being active both socially and intellectually – learn something new every day
- Getting adequate sleep
- Maintaining a healthy diet
Sure, you will still put the car keys down and not know where they are; that is completely normal. But if you take good care of your body and brain, you may forget where those keys are less often. For more information on cognitive aging, visit the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies by clicking here.
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