It’s true, I am losing my mind. In fact, we all are.
Research has shown that we all begin to lose our cognitive ability beginning around age 25. It begins very slowly however and isn’t usually noticeable until after age 50.
You may have noticed that people usually begin to be particularly frustrated with decrease in mental function by around age 60 or possibly younger. This may take the form of forgetting where you left things, trying to recall names and numbers, slower comprehension of new tasks or having difficulty with concentration.
In the absence of specific disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions related to dementia, most people will begin to experience noticeable issues that can be frustrating at times, but can usually be manageable.
Memory issues and other mental function can be related to many different health conditions. That is why is essential to talk to your primary care provider if you have noticed any recent changes. Through history, lab tests and possibly other testing, your primary care provider can work with you to determine if the changes are related to health issues that should be addressed.
In many cases the provider may classify the changes as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). This is a term that indicates there are recent issues affecting the mental function of a patient such as:
• Missing appointments and other scheduled events
• Losing your train of thought
• Feeling overwhelmed by making decisions and plans
• Feeling of being lost in familiar places or forgetting how to get to a place or get home
• Becoming reactive and making poor decisions
• Feelings of unusual depression, anxiety or agitation
It is particularly important if family or friends notice these changes.
Some of the factors that may be related to the cause of these changes can be:
• High blood pressure
• Elevated cholesterol
• Previous trauma or injury
• Prior stroke, cardiac issues or circulatory disorder
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Lack of engagement in social activities
Certain drugs can be related to mental or cognitive decline. According to a recent paper published in the journal Brain and Nerve by Shinohara, “Elderly people are more likely than young people to develop cognitive impairments associated with medication use. One of the reasons for this is that renal and liver functions are often impaired in elderly people. Dementia and delirium (an acute confused state) are known to be associated with drug toxicity. Anticholinergic medications are common causes of both acute and chronic cognitive impairment.
“Psychoactive drugs, antidepressants and anticonvulsants can cause dementia and delirium. In addition, non-psychoactive drugs such as histamine H2 receptor antagonists, corticosteroids, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent), and cardiac medications, may cause acute or chronic cognitive impairment. Early diagnosis and withdrawal of the offending agent are essential for the prevention of drug-induced dementia and delirium.”
Without getting into a total list of drugs that may be involved, the short summary is that many commonly used and prescribed medications can cause confusion and mental issues, particularly in patients older than 50.
It is also common for dehydration or something as simple as a urinary tract infection to result in significant cognitive issues.
In short, any noticeable issues with memory or concentration should be evaluated.
In order to maintain optimum mental function throughout life, it is very important to work to maintain excellent physical health. Take steps like:
• Lose weight. Even mild obesity increases your risk.
• Drink adequate water. Over the years I have noticed that people over the age of 50 tend to drink too little water for various reasons.
• Stay active. If you have activity limitations or pain from activity, I encourage you to contact our office to see if we can help you solve your pain issues and restore more normal physical function You may be surprised to see how well you can move with the right help.
• Minimize medications if possible. Constantly evaluate all drugs and discuss with the prescriber any side effects that you may notice.
• Stay engaged socially. Actively look for ways to interact with other people regularly. Don’t be a hermit.
Staying healthy mentally is just as important as physically.
Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com