Answers to six important questions about brain health
A recent study has revealed that the pandemic has caused a significant increase in cognitive decline among individuals over the age of 50, regardless of whether or not they were infected with Covid-19. This has had a lasting effect on their brain health. How can you determine the state of your brain health and what steps can you take to improve it?
As we age, our brain function naturally slows down. According to Professor Anne Corbett, who leads the Protect study on dementia research at the University of Exeter, this process typically begins in mid-life and varies from person to person.
Be aware of any memory lapses, trouble focusing or solving problems, or alterations in speech or behavior that are out of the ordinary for you and persist for a prolonged period. These changes are often noticed first by friends and family.
Maintaining proper brain function is essential for good brain health, according to Dr. Susan Mitchell, who leads the policy division at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
According to Mitchell, a significant indication of declining brain health is a shift in our ability to handle daily tasks. This can manifest in changes such as difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, navigation problems, memory issues, and disrupted sleep.
What are some ways to assess your own brain’s well-being?
Mitchell explains that brain health cannot be precisely measured. One potential method of measuring brain health is by engaging in stimulating activities and monitoring our ability to handle them.
According to Corbett, because everyone’s brain is unique, there is no single, universal fast test. However, through our Protect study, we can utilize advanced computerized tests to track subtle changes over time.
“You can also engage in brain training activities at home to evaluate your cognitive abilities, but they may not provide a definitive indication of your overall health. It is recommended to consult with your GP for a more comprehensive assessment of your brain function.”
What could be causing the decrease in brain health among individuals over the age of 50 during the pandemic?
According to Corbett, researchers are unsure, but they have found connections between several key factors during lockdown. These include reduced physical activity, increased alcohol consumption, higher levels of depression and loneliness.
Is it possible that a decrease in brain function is simply a consequence of getting older?
Yes, it’s true. As we get older, we all go through some natural decline. Mitchell explains, “Similar to our physical body, our brain also ages. This means it doesn’t work the same as it did when we were younger.”
“Nevertheless, there are various health and lifestyle elements that can impact one’s brain health positively.”
“Two key factors impacted by the pandemic are social isolation and regular exercise. If you find yourself struggling with tasks that were once effortless, it’s important to speak with your doctor for assistance in determining the cause.”
What actions can you take to enhance brain health?
According to Corbett, some effective methods for safeguarding your brain are engaging in consistent physical exercise, maintaining a proper weight, addressing medical issues like depression, high blood pressure, and hearing loss, and stimulating your brain through activities such as brain training and socializing.
According to Mitchell, maintaining a well-rounded diet is crucial.
What is the probability that a decrease in brain function indicates dementia?
Having a decline in brain health while in isolation does not always indicate dementia. However, experiencing poor brain health during midlife may increase the likelihood of developing dementia in the future.
Mitchell advises that if you are experiencing symptoms of dementia, it is crucial to consult with your doctor.