Our cognitive abilities (remembering, planning, organizing, making decisions and more) affect how well we complete daily tasks, and our ability to live independently. As we age, changes may occur such as: being slower to recall words and names, problems with multitasking, and the ability to pay attention. Research has revealed that older adults can still learn new skills, form new memories, improve vocabulary/language skills, and change their minds about important issues.  This learning may occur due to the larger vocabularies, greater depth of knowledge, and the accumulated experiences of older adults. Concerns about cognitive abilities should be discussed with a doctor to determine whether they are normal aging processes or areas of concern. The good news: Changes in our physical health may also affect our brains. Healthy lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, Mediterranean-style diet, not smoking or heavy drinking and mentally stimulating activities help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. While high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking increase the risk of developing dementia, increasing physical activity slows cognitive decline. Therefore, modifying our behaviours can help our brains as we age.

By Peter Yurek, B.Sc.Phm.