The repeated lockdowns we’ve experienced due to the coronavirus pandemic have been a ticking time bomb for cognitive decline and the chances of dementia, according to research from the University of Exeter and King’s College London.
Levels of memory and cognitive function, such as decision-making and problem-solving, declined faster during the pandemic, possibly as a result of other areas being burdened, such as exercise, socialization and diet.
The study and findings in detail
According to the study, the brain health of people over 50 deteriorated 50% faster than usual under the restrictions of the pandemic.
The researchers analyzed brain function tests they administered to 3,142 people from the United Kingdom, aged 50 to 90.
The analysis showed that the rate of cognitive decline accelerated in the first year of the pandemic and was highest among those who had already shown signs of mild cognitive decline before the pandemic “hit.”
This pattern continued in the second year of the pandemic, according to findings published in The Lancet.
These findings suggest that the lockdowns and other restrictions we experienced during the pandemic had a lasting impact on the brain health of people aged 50 and over, even after they ended, the researchers said.
This raises the important question of whether people over 50 are potentially at higher risk of developing dementia in later years.
The researchers also highlighted the importance of carefully monitoring at-risk individuals during severe events such as the pandemic.
Can we do something about it?
We know many risk factors for cognitive decline, and now Covid-19 may unfortunately be added to the list.
The positive is that lifestyle changes and better habits regarding our health can positively affect brain function.
Studies show that up to four out of ten cases of dementia are linked to factors within our control, such as good nutrition and regular exercise.
Other steps we can take to protect our brain health are:
- Get good sleep (seven to eight hours every night).
- To avoid bad habits, such as smoking and alcohol.
- Let’s take care of our heart. The health of the heart and all the cardiovascular risk factors that need to be controlled and maintained at good levels are very important parameters to keep the brain in turn, healthy.
- To exercise our minds until old age. Training the mind is just as important as training the body. Read books, meditate, or anything else that pleases you and keeps your mind sharp.
- Expand your social circle. Stay close to your loved ones.