Cognitive abilities range from person to person, and they encompass your ability to tie your shoelaces, and also a nuclear engineer’s ability to invent a new type of nuclear reactor. Your cognitive ability dictates whether or not you can open your mouth and form words as speech, and cognitive development problems in children can lead to a range of difficulties in later life. Reasoning and processing skills are cognitive skills, along with holding and accessing the information in your long and short-term memory.
Cognitive aging – the basics:
Our cognitive skills deteriorate as we get older, and our ability to recall memories from the past, or even simple facts about everyday life can become impaired and reduced. To a certain extent this is normal and to be expected – our brains obviously grow old at the same rate as our bodies, and as our skin loses its elasticity and gains wrinkles to replace it, so does our brain undergo changes to its usability and function. These changes are normal, and part of growing older. However, cognitive abilities can be affected by numerous things other than aging; for example, early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, brain damage and drug abuse can cause changes to cognitive abilities and processes. As a result, dealing with people whose cognitive abilities have reduced is an expensive and important task for healthcare systems around the world. Cognitively impaired people are not only vulnerable people themselves, but they can cause dangers to others too, if their condition is not understood and dealt with appropriately.
How to improve your cognitive decline
As cognitive function becomes a popular topic of conversation not just in health circles, but in wider populations of people who just want to ensure that they are doing right by their brains and bodies, there are emerging ideas and ways to improve and maintain your brain activity and function. Reduced cognitive function not only lowers our life expectancy, but also advanced aging in other parts of the body. Learning and doing new things is always at the top of any list of ways to improve cognitive function, and this includes difficult puzzles or brain teasers as well as sky diving and spelunking. Play is increasingly understood to be vital in maintaining a healthy brain and psyche, so be sure to include leisure time in your day to day routine, where you can be exploratory and fun. Visiting museums, art galleries, visitor centers and national monuments will increase your cognitive action, forcing your brain into action as it processes and stores all the new information you are presenting it with. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as ever, is paramount, and a good sleep cycle will contribute to reducing cognitive ageing.
It’s true than many people who suffer from cognitive impairments do so due to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and other old-age related illnesses. However, reductions in cognitive ability are possible due to lack of exposure to new and exciting experiences, and a lack of inspiration and/or passion. It’s important to address any mental health issues which stop you from getting the most out of life, as reductions in cognitive ability due to stress or depression are reversible through actively focusing on improving the quality of your stimuli and life experiences.