Cognitive Decline with Aging: HOW TO PREVENT IT

First of all, Unfortunately, Cognitive decline with aging affects a large proportion of the elderly, but it is not the only cause. Cognitive decline can have many causes: aging, brain trauma, illness, etc. When it is age-related, this impairment more often remains moderate and does not inevitably progress to dementia. Here are the main points to know to enable seniors to understand and act on cognitive decline.


Cognitive Decline with Aging

They are characterized by an alteration of brain functions, especially memory. The symptoms vary greatly, depending on the area of the brain affected. Cognitive impairment is not necessarily synonymous with diminished intellectual capacity: instead, those affected tend to forget

  • their phone number or a person’s name;
  • lose objects
  • organize themselves badly;

These disorders first affect the speed of information processing: the brain reacts less quickly. Sometimes, without realizing it, a person may take longer to perform certain actions. Secondly, memory problems can appear, especially regarding the memory of personal events, such as places or emotions.

It is important to identify the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment in order to avoid a progression to a more serious pathology.


As we age, the body becomes less effective because cells no longer regenerate in the same way. Older people generally notice a psychomotor slowdown (slower and less flexible movements). The same goes for the brain, which will find it more difficult to perform complex tasks. All these signs are normal and should not cause too much concern.

Mild cognitive impairment, on the other hand, is manifested by a decrease in memory, but the elderly person remains completely autonomous on a daily basis. However, people with mild cognitive decline are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most well-known form of dementia in our societies.

Dementia is a disorder that appears gradually, degrading memory and general behavior. These dysfunctions are often accompanied by psychological disturbances, especially depression.

Despite the frequent anxiety of the elderly about their health, it should be kept in mind that it is normal to forget, regardless of age. We will be careful if the forgetfulness becomes too frequent and starts to complicate daily life.


  • Stroke/head injury: Cognitive disorders come from brain damage, resulting in lasting sequelae. Traumatic brain injury and stroke are mainly remembered, as a failure of blood circulation that can partially affect the brain.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be accompanied by cognitive impairment: people sometimes complain about their memory or difficulties with certain activities. If they can be MS-related symptoms (fatigue, depressive tendencies, etc.), these signs may also reflect the onset of cognitive disturbances.
  • Alzheimer’s: The pre-negative stage, corresponding to the onset of the first symptoms. People are autonomous on a daily basis but with memory deficits. The insanity phase is in which autonomy is clearly reduced for essential daily gestures.

Finally, the severe dementia phase, a stage in which the loss of autonomy is complete. Cognitive disturbances are often added behavioral disturbances (agitation or apathy, hallucinations) or neurological disturbances (epilepsy). Several years separate the first signs of the disease from the final stage.

  • Eating disorders or malnutrition: It has been proven that people who are anorexic, bulimic, or subject to malnutrition can have difficulties with decision-making and memory, with impaired cognitive functions.
  • Depression in the elderly: Cognitive impairment and depression often go hand in hand. Older people regularly face losses and upheaval (death of a loved one, hospitalization, etc.) that are sometimes difficult to manage.

This is why it is useful not to reduce forgetfulness to loss of ability in the elderly, but also to consider the psychic aspect, to better understand the causes of cognitive deficit.


As several studies have shown, cognitive decline can be prevented by acting on certain factors: stress control, depression, and in general all chronic diseases, which increase the risk of cognitive impairment.

Lifestyle is also paramount. Sufficient physical activity, an adapted and balanced diet, enrichment of social life, and cultural and intellectual activities are the main avenues to explore. Virtual reality is also a tool for relaxation and well-being for people with cognitive disabilities.


The treatment of cognitive disorders is summarized in drug treatment, combined with therapy. There are cases of reversible dementia, when the disorder comes from an eating imbalance, depression or infection.

Good reasons for older people not to be defeatist, because choosing a healthier lifestyle and enjoyable activities has a great influence on mental abilities. To do this, external aids, such as regular home help, can help older people regain a good rhythm of life and monitor their health.

Finally, mindfulness meditation would have a positive impact on cognitive functions. The way you breathe directly affects brain chemistry and can help improve brain health. You can develop concentration skills or awaken positive emotions.