When we still memorized and could sing every verse of our favorite rock in the 90s, we never thought about the possibility of memory problems in the brain.
Or, when we can still easily memorize the home phone number of our little friend, it seems that the threat of senility is not yet a problem.
Cognitive function deteriorates naturally with age.
It's only natural, then, that our ability to remember details, understand, learn, and think declines slightly over time.
But when it starts to affect the quality of daily life and the ability to live a happy, healthy, and safe life, that's when a brain-issue-related diagnosis is likely.
Family history certainly plays a role in the risk of dementia and other cognition-related conditions.
Scientists also found various habits that can trigger the emergence of this senility problem.
Things that have previously been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive complications later in life include:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Maintain blood sugar stability.
- Limit your intake of ultra-processed foods.
- Maintaining healthy blood pressure
- Do not smoke.
- Get enough sleep
- Stay socially engaged.
- Incorporate regular physical activity.
However, there still seems to be a gap in our understanding of all possible risk factors for cognitive decline.
So, researchers at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan decided to clear up the confusion about cognitive problems and simultaneously try to prevent future cases of cognitive decline.
According to a study published on February 8 in the journal PLoS ONE, several factors that are rarely considered turn out to account for around 38 percent of the variation in cognitive function at the age of 54 years.
These factors include personal education, parental education, household income and wealth, race, occupation, and depression status.
For this research, Hui Zheng, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Sociology at Ohio State University, and his team collected data on more than 7,000 US adults who were born between 1931 and 1941.
Those who become respondents are those who have enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study.
The cognition-related study covered participants' health biometrics from 1996–2016, as well as details about lifestyle, such as exercise, smoking status, medical diagnoses, and socioeconomic factors.
Zheng and his team used a statistical approach to try to estimate the role (if any) and the percentage effect each factor they studied had on neuropathological function.
From there, the scientists found that early life conditions, illness, and adult behavior played a relatively small role—about 5.6 percent—in cognitive decline.
However, these factors were found to be related and contribute up to 38 percent to the overall risk rating.
The composites are related to socioeconomic status (including the person's and their parents' educational level, income or wealth, and occupation), race, and mental health.
Prior to this study, doctors and scientists had often suggested that a person's choices and actions were most important in maintaining cognitive function.
But the findings in this research suggest that it is time to turn attention to the social determinants of health as well.