Like with most medical issues, cognitive impairment is something that no one wants and that no one can predict. Family history, substance abuse, and lifestyle choices can give us general probabilities of one’s susceptibility to these diseases but even the most health-conscious person is still at risk of developing Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s among others in the most serious of cases.

Working memory and processing speed are among the abilities most likely to decline as we age, this is rather natural. Attention and fluid intelligence are others that can be affected. They can present themselves as trouble recalling short and long-term events, processing information slower or needing an extra minute to complete daily tasks, trouble staying awake or attentive.

Luckily, there is also research that suggests that through prudent action and preventative measures, we may be able to help prevent, or at least decelerate, the onset of cognitive decline. Below is a list of ways to do that.

  • Physical exercise: Activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, and aerobics among others can help keep the mind and body active and healthy.
  • Mental Stimulation: Partaking in activities such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, even arts and crafts and games can help keep your mind sharp and active.
  • Healthy Diet: A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean protein and whole grain will give the body the nutrients it needs to stay in top shape.
  • Social Engagement: Participating in social functions and engaging with others can provide mental stimulation, emotional support, physical activity and a sense of connection that all aid in the prevention of cognitive decline.
  • Proper Sleep: Most adults need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Maintaining a steady sleep cycle will allow your mind to rest and recuperate to function at its highest capacity each day.
  • Medication: Medication can be useful in treating or preventing cognitive decline, especially if used to treat an underlying condition. If you have been diagnosed with a specific condition, staying on top of your medication and completing your treatments as specified by a medical professional is the best way to ensure that the treatment is effective.

According to the World Health organization, 5-10% of adults aged 60 or older are affected by cognitive decline. Additionally, according to the National Institute on Aging, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years after the age of 65. The research goes on. Bottom line is that as we wipe the sweat from our brows after years of working and building our lives, as we settle down to enjoy the fruits of our labor, a new shadow begins to loom over us. Will I be affected by this? Will my spouse have the support they need in case I decline rapidly? Have I set everything in place so that my assets are well guarded in the event that I am no longer mentally fit to manage them? These are important questions we must ask ourselves as we enter this new stage in our lives and accept the possibility that no one is truly safe in this game of mental Russian Roulette. Talking to your advisor is one of the first steps to protecting your family and your assets.

The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Munn Gray & Associates and not necessarily those of Raymond James.