Cognitive decline is bound to show up in all of us sooner or later, especially if we are blessed with longevity. The goal is for this to happen later rather than sooner. Healthy habits, such as eating nutrient-rich foods, staying physically active, engaging in positive relationships, managing stress in productive ways, and living a full and active life can help to prevent or delay cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and other forms of dementia.
A well-stimulated brain is more resilient against cognitive decline. “Brain training” games like crossword puzzles and Sudoku have been used to improve memory, thinking and problem-solving in people showing signs of cognitive decline. Learning a new language or musical instrument can have a similar effect. In one study, older adults with no previous musical experience improved their communication skills and processing speeds after a few months of weekly piano lessons.
If cognitive decline progresses to AD, fewer options are available other than treatment and management of symptoms with medication. The newest medication, aducanumab, slows the progression of the disease by reducing amyloid (abnormal tissue) deposits in the brain. Other drugs target behavioral symptoms, allowing patients to live with greater independence, dignity, and quality of life.