Dr. Leslie Kernisan recently provided a fantastic summary of a report published by Institute of Medicine (IOM) , the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. The health report called “Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action” is quite dense and lengthy. Dr. Kernisan thankfully has compiled their practical findings about how we can maintain better brain- health. Dr. Kenyan also provides ways to compensate for common cognitive problems.
The IOM report included a brief action guide that collected the four common myths about brain health and aging:"Myth: Maintaining cognitive health means preserving your memory.
Fact: Cognitive health is far more than having a good memory. It also involves decision-making, attention and problem-solving.
Myth: Cognitive function always declines with age.
Fact: Aging can have positive and negative effects on cognition.
Myth: Brain neurons die as you age, so there is no way to prevent cognitive decline.
Fact: In the absence of disease, neuron death is minimal.
Myth: There is nothing you can do to improve your cognitive health.
Fact: There are actions individuals and families can take to help support their cognitive health and adapt to age-related cognitive changes."
The IOM’s report continues for 120 pages reviewing the factors that affect cognitive aging and the steps you can take to improve long term brain health.
Dr. Kernisan has summarized those below:
"1. Be physically active.
2. Reduce your cardiovascular risk factors (including hypertension, diabetes and smoking).
3. Manage your medications by reviewing them with a clinician and learning about their effects on cognitive health.
4. Be socially and intellectually active.
5. Get adequate sleep.
6. Learn to prevent delirium, a decrease in cognitive function that can be triggered by hospitalization, medications or certain illnesses."
Dr. Kernisan particularly stresses the importance of the first three.
If you or a loved one wants to ensure and improve long term brain health, be sure to read Dr. Leslie Kernisan’s full article at NextAvenue.org and the IOM’s full report for more detailed case information.