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Habits That Affect Cognitive Health

Various changes to appearance and health are associated with aging. Issues such as diminished vision, waning muscle strength and gray hairs are among the more common and noticeable side effects of aging. Cognitive decline is another symptom often associated with aging, even if that needn’t be the case.

Certain lifestyle choices can protect against cognitive decline and dementias. While there is no surefire way to prevent dementias, here are some good habits for maintaining cognitive function well into your golden years.

Exercise frequently
Harvard Health reports that exercise, in addition to the many other benefits it provides, may help improve cognitive function in people who have already experienced memory issues. Exercise may be particularly advantageous to people who carry the APOE4 gene variant, which makes people more susceptible to Alzheimer’s. Speak with a doctor about how much exercise is needed and what is safe for your age.

Enjoy video games
Playing a favorite video game may improve long-term cognitive function. Researchers at Cambridge Brain Sciences found study participants who played non-cognitive-training video games were associated with better performance in several cognitive domains, but only for younger (age 18 to 64) participants. Cognitive training games, on the other hand, were not associated with any cognitive improvement.

Stay socially engaged
According to a study published in the journal Experimental Aging Research, seniors who have high levels of social engagement also have better cognitive function. Getting together with friends, participating in a club, attending religious studies, and any other activity that gets you out with other people can help with cognitive function.

Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diverse array of healthy foods is beneficial. Nutritious diets can help reduce the risk for illnesses that may affect cognitive ability. Eating well also helps keep the brain healthy. A Mediterranean diet appears to lower the risk or slow the progression of dementia in people who have the condition.

Get help for sleep disorders
Lack of sleep can affect memory and learning. By getting help for sleep disorders, you may reduce your risk for cognitive issues.
While it is not possible to prevent or cure cognitive conditions like dementias with lifestyle changes, certain behaviors can lower the risk of developing these illnesses or reduce their severity.

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