Complementary Medicine - Cam
Age-Related Cognitive Decline (Holistic)
About This Condition
With a little help you can reduce the effects of ARCD, such as memory problems. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
About This Condition
A decline in memory and cognitive (thinking) function is considered by many authorities to be a normal consequence of aging.1 , 2 While age-related cognitive decline (ARCD) is therefore not considered a disease, authorities differ on whether ARCD is in part related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia3 or whether it is a distinct entity.4 , 5 People with ARCD experience deterioration in memory and learning, attention and concentration, thinking, use of language, and other mental functions.6 , 7
ARCD usually occurs gradually. Sudden cognitive decline is not a part of normal aging. When people develop an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, mental deterioration usually happens quickly. In contrast, cognitive performance in elderly adults normally remains stable over many years, with only slight declines in short-term memory and reaction times.8
People sometimes believe they are having memory problems when there are no actual decreases in memory performance.9 Therefore, assessment of cognitive function requires specialized professional evaluation. Psychologists and psychiatrists employ sophisticated cognitive testing methods to detect and accurately measure the severity of cognitive decline.10 , 11 , 12 , 13 A qualified health professional should be consulted if memory impairment is suspected.
Some older people have greater memory and cognitive difficulties than do those undergoing normal aging, but their symptoms are not so severe as to justify a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these people go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease; others do not. Authorities have suggested several terms for this middle category, including “mild cognitive impairment”14 and “mild neurocognitive disorder.”15 Risk factors for ARCD include advancing age, female gender, prior heart attack , and heart failure .
People with ARCD experience deterioration in memory and learning, attention and concentration, thinking, use of language, and other mental functions.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Cigarette smokers and people with high levels of education appear to have some protection against ARCD.16 The reason for each of these associations remains unknown. However, as cigarette smoking generally is not associated with other health benefits and results in serious health risks, doctors recommend abstinence from smoking, even by people at risk of ARCD.
A large, preliminary study in 1998 found associations between hypertension and deterioration in mental function.17 Research is needed to determine if lowering blood pressure is effective for preventing ARCD.
A randomized, controlled trial determined that group exercise has beneficial effects on physiological and cognitive functioning, and well-being in older people. At the end of the trial, the exercisers showed significant improvements in reaction time, memory span, and measures of well-being when compared with controls.18 Going for walks may be enough to modify the usual age-related decline in reaction time. Faster reaction times were associated with walking exercise in a British study.19 The results of these two studies suggest a possible role for exercise in preventing ARCD. However, controlled trials in people with ARCD are needed to confirm these observations.
Psychological counseling and training to improve memory have produced improvements in cognitive function in persons with ARCD.20 , 21 , 22
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
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Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
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