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LIVING 60+: Staying mentally sharp after retirement

How to protect long-term cognitive health
Retirement can be everything professionals hope it will be, especially for those who make a concerted effort to maintain optimal cognitive function, stay mentally sharp, and practise brain health. (MCS)

If asked to describe how they envision retirement, many professionals might reference travel, time spent with grandchildren, and various recreational pursuits.

Few, if any, would mention cognitive decline. However, cognitive decline poses a significant threat to aging men and women, especially during retirement.

Researchers have long since recognized that certain cognitive abilities begin to decline with advanced age, even among elderly individuals who are healthy.

However, despite that decline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that dementias like Alzheimer’s disease are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, the CDC estimates that as many as 40 per cent of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed.

In addition, the CDC reports that it’s not uncommon for routine memory, skills, and knowledge to stabilize or even improve as the brain ages.

That’s good news for retirees who want to spend their post-work life pursuing their passions and hobbies.

The human brain is a marvel. Everything from thought to memory to emotion is controlled by the brain, which only underscores how impressive this incredible organ is.

The word “brain” is something of an umbrella term to refer to an organ where various complex tasks are performed.

Individuals can safeguard brain health — particularly cognitive health, which should never be taken for granted — by taking a few basic steps.

Be more health-conscious

Working with doctors, individuals can put their health first. This includes getting routine screenings, managing chronic health problems, limiting or avoiding alcohol and nicotine products, and getting the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Manage high-blood pressure

All chronic conditions cause long-term repercussions, but observational studies show having high-blood pressure in mid-life increases the risk of cognitive decline later in life. Lowering blood pressure lowers the risk for mild cognitive impairment and possibly dementia.

Challenge your brain

Nurturing social contacts, engaging in stimulating mental activities like reading and doing puzzles, seeing new places, and learning new things can help keep the brain in top form.

Manage stress

Stress can take its toll on the body, and there is reason to believe that it may adversely affect cognitive health, as well. Make every stride to reduce stress, whether that involves taking vacations, meditating, laughing with friends and family, or engaging in relaxing activities that relieve stress.

Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D is linked to a host health benefits, including its potential to promote a healthy brain. Individuals can get more time outdoors to get vitamin D naturally from the sun and eat foods rich in vitamin D. If doctors find that vitamin D levels are exceptionally low, supplementation can help.

Pay attention to hearing loss

Certain hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline. Researchers concluded that people with central hearing loss had a higher risk of mild cognitive impairment than those with no hearing loss or peripheral hearing loss. Individuals with central hearing loss are urged to speak to their physicians to determine if they can take preventive action to stave off further decline.

Cognitive health should be a priority. Adults can employ various strategies like these to reduce their risk of cognitive decline as they age.

Although a certain level of memory loss can be expected as people age, when the ability to clearly think, learn and remember is compromised, those changes can affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and should serve as a cause for concern.

Brain health should be a priority for everyone.

– Metro Creative Services

READ MORE: Volunteers needed to survey residents Langley long-terms care home

RELATED: Just a bit of exercise can improve mental health, scientists, psychologists say


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