Preventing Cognitive Decline

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We continue our conversation about cognitive decline, outlining effective prevention measures that prove to be helpful in maintaining a long, healthy, and productive life.

To Think or Not to Think… That is the Question.

In this podcast, we continue our  conversation about cognitive decline based on a lecture that Dr. Kenneth Jansen gave at a national healthy-aging conference for physicians about hormone replacement and age management medicine.

Brett Newcomb and I talk about the strategy we use to practice preventative medicine and, in particular, we talk about how counselors and doctors measure cognitive processes. These tests are often necessary so that we are able to develop a treatment plan and/or reassure a patient who is committed to preventing cognitive decline in themselves.

In today’s medical environment, you may see you doctor only once a year. She or he may not be able to compare your ability to think and/or remember with their memory of you from previous years until you have already developed symptoms of mental decline. Current medical practice also makes diagnosing dementia difficult due to the fact that visits are often short and oriented toward diagnosing the cause of a group of symptoms. Patients are generally afraid to ask about their memory loss for fear they will hear the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. If you have questions or concerns for your doctor, it is best to plan your questions in advance and limit them to three main issues, in order of importance. Doctors are often visual beings so writing your concerns on one page of paper is helpful.

Because medical practice does not appear to be changing the practice paradigm soon, it is important that we look out for ourselves. Be aware of your own health patterns and functioning rhythms, but also be aware of those around you. If you are in intimate or familial relationships or even if you work closely with someone or are a neighbor and friend, be aware of them and notice changes in breathing, walking, speech patterns, general wellbeing, etc. Ask them, when you notice any changes, if they are okay. Sometimes you might save a life by getting someone to recognize that something is wrong before they are aware of it themselves. Send them to their doctor to have themselves evaluated.

There are medicines that can be used to treat symptoms of cognitive decline, and we discuss some of them today. To prevent this outcome for yourself, it is imperative to know the cost of actually getting the disease. This will motivate you to take preventative action against that given disease. Some of the lifestyle changes you can make, other than regular exercise, include intentional and complex mental activity. Read, play cards, do crossword puzzles, take a class, learn a language: do something to keep your mind active and involved. Treat yourself to many more years of active mental capacity by living well!

Hopefully this podcast will challenge you to work with myself or with your own physician to help you in preventing cognitive decline, and to live long, healthy, and productive lives.

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