Preventing Cognitive Decline With Aging
Celebrating Better Speech and Hearing Month
Speech language pathologists address concerns related to communication and swallowing, but what about when someone presents with cognitive deficits? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 50 million people worldwide with dementia and that number is expected to triple by 2050. Dementia affects an individual’s cognitive abilities to reason, organize, process, remember and attend to normal everyday activities. It can be as simple as making a mental list of what is needed at the grocery store, driving to the store, and remembering where items are located to make the most of your time. A decline in cognition can have a devastating effect on one’s lifestyle. Speech language pathologists treat individuals with cognitive deficits, including those with dementia, to restore their abilities or find compensatory strategies. The end goal is to have individuals functioning as independently as possible in their natural environment.
While speech language pathologists provide a direct treatment approach to individuals presenting with these challenges, the WHO just recently published recommendations on how to reduce the risk of dementia. Included in these recommendations are regular physical exercise, management of high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as diet modifications. Eating a well-balanced diet, the WHO specifically noted a Mediterranean-like diet, may decrease risk of cognitive decline later in life. With education, preventative strategies can be effective at reducing the severity and/or incidence of dementia.
So why are these recommendations important? Health care resources are often spent restoring or compensating for health decline but following these recommendations may preserve some of these important functions that we take for granted: Reasoning, planning, processing, remembering and attending. Without these basic functions, we become dependent on those around us. It may impact our abilities to communicate, to eat, to clean, to socialize, to perform job tasks, and to safely participate in leisure activities.
Here at Beyond Limits Rehabilitation, we believe in helping individuals function as independently as possible with the activities that they love the most; whether that is time spent with family, at their job, in their community, or with a particular hobby. Our team utilizes a holistic approach including exercise, nutrition, and management of chronic diseases to help an individual maintain overall wellness and lifestyle. It is our priority to provide individualized treatment that includes patient education. Our mission is “Empowering the Possible” and that begins with empowering you.
Molly Sillies, MA, CCC-SLP
World Health Organization. (2019). Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia. Retrieved from