Caring for your brain, A recent study discovered that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the brain health of people aged 50 and older, whether they got sick or not. It sped up how our brains work, and that’s why it’s important to understand and improve our brain health.
Regular Aging vs. Changes
When we grow older, it’s normal for our brains to slow down a bit. Professor Anne Corbett, who studies this, says it begins in middle age, and it doesn’t happen the same way for everyone. Look for signs like forgetting things, trouble paying attention, finding solutions, or acting differently than usual for several months. Often, your friends and family will notice these changes first.
What’s Good Brain Health?
Good brain health means your brain is working well. Dr. Susan Mitchell from Alzheimer’s Research UK explains that a decline in brain health shows in how we handle daily tasks. It includes our ability to concentrate, stay motivated, find our way around, remember things, and sleep.
Measuring Brain Health
Checking how healthy your brain is isn’t super exact. Dr. Mitchell suggests doing tasks that make your brain work and keeping an eye on how well you manage them. Professor Corbett says there isn’t one-size-fits-all test, but there are computer tests and brain games that can help track tiny changes over time. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor to have your brain checked.
Reasons Behind the Brain Health Decline
We’re not entirely sure why brain health went down during the pandemic, but we have some guesses. Professor Corbett thinks factors like less exercise, more drinking, feeling sadder and lonelier, which all got worse during lockdowns, might have played a part.
Natural Aging vs. Brain Health
It’s important to know that some slowing down of the brain is just a normal part of getting older. Dr. Mitchell explains that, like the rest of our bodies, our brains get older, and they don’t work the same as when we were younger. But things like staying social and moving around, both affected by the pandemic, can help our brains stay healthy. If you’re having trouble with tasks that used to be easy, talking to your doctor can help figure out why.
Simple Ways to Boost Brain Health
To keep your brain in good shape, Professor Corbett recommends getting regular exercise, keeping a healthy weight, and taking care of things like depression, high blood pressure, and hearing problems. Keeping your brain busy with puzzles and spending time with others also helps. Eating a balanced diet is important too, says Dr. Mitchell.
Is Brain Health Decline a Sign of Dementia?
Not always. If your brain health isn’t great, it doesn’t mean you have dementia. But if it’s not doing well in middle age, it might mean a higher chance of dementia later on. If you think you might have dementia, talking to your doctor is a good idea to get the right help.