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Brain function is vital to daily life. Cognitive health is often thought about in early childhood development, and then less focused on as we grow into adulthood. The word “Cognition” refers to the act or process of knowing something, perceiving something, or knowledge. Cognitive health includes the ability to think clearly, learn, and remember; all functions of a healthy brain. Our cognitive health needs attention throughout our lifetime.
If this sounds pretty basic to you, it’s not. Learning is more than just schooling. If someone instructs you on how to do a simple task, your brain needs to retain those instructions so that you will be able to perform the task. That’s cognition. Even basic daily needs require it. I can lay out a toothbrush and toothpaste for you on the bathroom counter, but if your brain is not healthy, you may not remember what these items are for, or maybe you do but you can’t remember how to use them.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia) negatively impact our cognitive health. Negative changes to the brain typically start with difficulty remembering newly learned information. Though some forgetfulness is common with normal aging, Alzheimer’s and dementia are not part of the normal aging process. They are irreversible and progressive. However, research has found that cases where a person has a specific genetic component (virtually guaranteeing they will develop the disease) are rare. These occur less than 1 percent of the time. According to the Mayo Clinic, scientists believe that for most people, Alzheimer’s disease occurs as a result of a combination of factors: lifestyle, environmental and genetic. Over time, these factors negatively impact the brain and cognitive health. This is why we continue to remind you that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not part of normal aging.
Cognitive decline can be gradual, and slip in unnoticed. Some of the earliest warning signs can include things like:
Scientists suggest that following a heart-healthy diet can also benefit brain health. Our best option seems to be proactive healthy habits and daily choices. Even if it seems inconvenient, our health is our most valuable possession and must be cared for. Making a daily habit of moving and stretching, drinking water, doing mentally stimulating activities and tasks, eating a balanced diet, etc will be beneficial over time.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.