I had a memory lapse last year, and it freaked me out! My granddaughter and I went for a walk I couldn’t recall my street address! I knew where I was and where I lived but it scared me.
They say with age, common memory lapses become more frequent. We all experience things like forgetting where we put our keys, or the word you need being on the tip of your tongue. Perhaps, this is because I work in Long Term Care and see firsthand the devastation of diseases, such as Alzheimer and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). MCI is a stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. Many seniors can experience difficulties with language, thinking and judgment.
Currently, there is no treatment for Alzheimer and MCI. As we age, our bodies go through a number of changes and our brain isn’t an exception. I was surprised to learn, women have a higher risk of dementia than men! A senior’s cognitive capacity decreases with age, resulting in symptoms, such as, forgetfulness and reduced problem-solving abilities and skills.
Did you know, reading is one of the best ways that can help protect you from cognitive decline? Reading, crossword puzzles, playing board games, engaging in group discussions and playing or listening to music can make a huge difference.
Other factors, such as a healthy diet, adequate sleep, physical activity, along with stimulating and social activities are the best intervention to fight cognitive decline in later years.
The Mediterranean-style diet is a healthy choice and is proven to slow cognitive decline. This diet has been shown to have anti-aging effects on the brain, cardiovascular and metabolic functions and overall longevity. The Mediterranean diet consists of a variety of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds, and olive oil along with fish (more deep sea fish), poultry, and dairy (more often made from goat milk than cows milk), while limiting a large variety of red meats and fast foods.
Sleep or rather lack of sleep (insomnia) is also considered to play a factor in cognitive decline. As we age, a suitable amount of sleep is required to keep us at our best. Sleep is known to improve overall health, and is essential for a variety of brain functions, such as learning and memory. Getting a consistent and adequate amount of quality sleep also relieves anxiety and depression and helps ward off cognitive decline and dementia.
Daily exercise has an array of health benefits, and along with social activities and mental exertion, is beneficial for all of us. Regular exercise helps to prevent heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer and breast cancer.
Being social expands our social network and provides an opportunity for cognitive stimulation. Individuals with strong family and social ties are less likely to experience cognitive decline. The easiest way to do this is find activities that you enjoy. Activities that will stimulate your mind, body and soul.
I understand the human body does not live forever but we can still honour God by making choices that bring us health and strength. So many people struggle with what God wants, saying “ The choices God wants for my life are always so different than the ones I want!” Yet isn’t it funny, how the choices God has for our lives are the ones which help us to be healthiest.
We need to shift our focus from the fear of aging, to the rich, full lives God is calling us to live. The Bible presents growing old as a normal and a natural part of life. Whereas the media leads us to believe that youth is somehow valued more but the truth is we are all treasured by God.