A couple of years ago, I started reading about behavioural science and it has now became a mini hobby. Initially, the aim was to increase awareness of my thought processes as I grow older. I felt that, like with my body, if I don’t make a conscious effort to engage in brain boosting activities, my mind will struggle in later years. I simply wanted to understand my own brain better – to increase my awareness in old age. To be more objective in thinking, examine the areas where I might take things personally with the aim of being more open minded. I wanted to be more knowledgeable about the things I didn’t know and converse about them. Being married an intellectual has helped with this quest.
Somewhere along way, I stumbled across “cognitive decline and ageing” and saw the words “memory loss”.Memory loss with age is something we all will experience. For me, a woman who once had very good ability to remember and recall, this distresses me. I must admit, I find it very very frustrating how, what seems like all of a sudden, I can’t seem to remember some things until reminded or even when reminded. It’s horrifying!
There are several online articles about menopausal memory loss as a result of diminished estrogen production. One of such is the 2012 University of Rochester Medical Centre article https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/3436/brain-fog-of-menopause-confirmed.aspx
“Multivariate analysis indicated that subjective memory complaints were significantly associated with impairments in attention, reaction time, and verbal memory. When examined collectively, these results suggest that declines in cognitive ability result from changes occurring during menopause.” – PMC4125424 ( 2014). Link to article below.
Okay, the fact that mild cognitive impairment is associated with menopause is comforting, but me being me, I’m wondering what happens after menopause. Does it come back just like that? Is that automatic? Or, do we have to do take steps to make sure it doesn’t get worse?
What is age related cognitive decline?
Age related cognitive decline is considered mild cognitive impairment. This is a natural process which affects reasoning, memory and processing speed. In a nutshell, our brains will start to slow down with age. Menopause or no menopause.
“Cognitive change as a normal process of ageing has been well documented in the scientific literature. Some cognitive abilities, such as vocabulary, are resilient to brain ageing and may even improve with age. Other abilities, such as conceptual reasoning, memory, and processing speed, decline gradually over time.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4015335/
Is there such a thing as successful brain ageing? Can cognitive decline be delayed or slowed down?
I’ve visualised my 70’s and 80’s (God grant me long life) and nowhere in it do I see struggling to process, impaired reasoning and serious memory loss. I started looking up steps to take to mentally age better. I came across this Harvard medical school article.
How to prevent cognitive Decline
I came across an informative article. I encourage you to read the whole article. Click here.
“The lifestyle-cognition hypothesis holds that maintaining an active lifestyle and engaging in certain activities during one’s life may help prevent age-associated cognitive decline and dementia. Support for this hypothesis is based on the fact that older adults with high cognitive function seem to participate in certain activities with greater frequency than older adults with low cognitive function.” – NCBI
The article states that, older adults associated with high cognitive function engaged in the activities listed below (copied from the article).
Intellectually Engaging Activities
- Puzzles, discussion groups, reading, using the computer, playing bridge, playing board games, playing musical instruments.
- Careers that involve high complexity.
- High educational attainment.
- Exercise, especially that which improves cardiovascular health
- Travel, cultural events
- Socialising with friends and family.
The great thing about this list is that, it involves no medication and everything is doable.
What is processing speed?