Senior Health : Addressing Cognitive Decline

Frank Giorgio is 81 years old and his wife Patricia is 76. They are sitting in the den of their Mariners Sands condominium in Florida. He reads up to three hours a day and she reads up to four. Frank has the newspaper open before him and is making his way through the articles in today’s issue. Back on Long Island where Frank and Patricia are originally from, Frank would read The New York Times cover to cover, every day. Next to him is the crossword puzzle that he has taken out of today’s newspaper. He will work on that after lunch. In the armchair adjacent to Frank, Patricia is holding her Kindle before her, the electronic device she’s using to read ‘Lila’, a new novel by Marilynne Robinson. This evening, Frank and Patricia will walk over to their condo’s club house for dinner with their neighbors. They often dine together and share stories of their grandchildren and the next trip they have planned. Frank and Patricia may or may not know that their lifestyle is probably having an amazing impact on their quality of life and health. Mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI is the intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline known as dementia.1   It can affect your ability to remember things and can even effect making decisions easily and rationalizing. Everyone has moments of forgetfulness, but when those moments of forgetfulness start to negatively impact your daily life, MCI could be the cause. It is believed that when the beginning of cognitive decline occurs, clump-like proteins called plaques form on the brain. Sometimes this can lead to more severe conditions such as dementia that is associated with Alzheimer’s but some people can actually recover. Further, there are preventive measures you can take to possibly avoid the cognitive decline associated with MCI. Just like the body, the brain needs exercise. How often do you read? Play board games? Meet friends for coffee and good conversation? Beyond being enjoyable pastimes, these activities can actually help combat MCI! Some studies have shown that “By far, the intervention that showed the most dramatic benefits among healthy elderly adults involved mental exercise.”2 Frank figures out the last clue in his crossword puzzle. With satisfaction, he sets the paper down on the coffee table. He rises and joins Patricia upstairs to get dressed for dinner.
1  “Mild Cognitive Impairment.” Mayo Clinic website. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2014. Web. October 7th 2014.

2   “Brain Exercises Better Than Drugs in Preventing Cognitive Decline.” Time Magazine’s Health Land website. Time Inc., April 5th 2013. Web. October 8th 2014.