Roughly 20 percent of the American population will be over 65 by the year 2030. This raises important questions about the number of individuals who may develop dementia or other form of cognitive impairment. So what is normal ageing, and how is cognitive disability defined? What can we do to help avoid the deterioration of cognition?Do you want to learn more? Visit Cognitive Health-A Mind For All Seasons, LLC
Normal brain ageing typically entails some incremental structural and functional changes that can result in a reduction of brain volume by up to 10 percent by the age of 80. Cerebral parenchyma, particularly in the frontal area, is shrinking. In addition, there is a drop in blood flow and reduced levels of chemical neurotransmitters, all of which are typically related to ageing. Senile plaques and neuro fibrillary tangles can accumulate; these are common changes in ageing that typically do not have a major impact on memory and function, but they may also occur in a far more common and widespread manner in Alzheimer’s Disease. On the plus hand, there is proof that the adult brain is resilient and capable of cortical remodelling, and neuroplasticity is otherwise defined as adaptation. Studies of cerebral blood flow show that there is a reduction in blood flow in some parts of the brain, while other parts experience an increase. This means that the brain can reorganise itself as it experiences normal ageing, helping the brain adapt as it ages and maximising the use of various brain regions.
The quality of the following 9 elements is evaluated by experts who assess the cognitive health of an individual. They include:
- Idiom Language
- Memory Storage
- The Executive Function
- Thinking Expressed
- Documented abilities, such as driving, cooking,
- Ability to live a life of meaning
Emotional health during ageing is also a very important part of the overall mental health of a person, in addition to cognitive health. The absence of psychological disorders and the presence of healthy emotional adaptation is measured by mental wellbeing. For males and females, there is a lifetime chance of depression of 17 percent. The incidence is up to twice that, or around 35 percent, for women alone. During hormone swings, there is an increased incidence of depression in women, and this can occur with the transition to menopause. Interestingly, 37 percent of schizophrenic women develop their condition after 45, although this has not been specifically related to lower levels of oestrogen or hormonal changes associated with the shift from menopause.
So, how do we decide whether there is an issue with us or a loved one? Mild cognitive impairment is characterised as a memory impairment that is noticeable to others, but most daily life tasks can still be carried out by the person. Many experts agree that MCI is a condition of change between natural ageing and AD, and that MCI is a precursor of dementia. Without having full dementia, up to 22 per cent of individuals over 71 will have MCI. Dementia is a cognitive deficit that involves memory failure and, like those mentioned above, at least one other cognitive issue. The most prevalent type of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease, which involves memory loss , damage to brain cells associated with behavioural changes, and diminished functioning in everyday life. Individuals with AD are unable to read , understand or retain new data and also have little capacity to verbally express themselves. AD people are also unable to think abstractly, nor can they make rational decisions or perform difficult tasks.