APEX Brain Centers

Cognitive Decline: From Causes to Solutions – Concise Insights and Strategies

Cognitive decline is a common concern as individuals age, affecting many aspects of daily life. One’s abilities to learn new information, remember experiences, pay attention, and reason may gradually diminish. While some cognitive decline is normal in aging, more significant changes can indicate a cognitive disorder. Older adults, in particular, may experience challenges with memory and cognitive functions.

This article will discuss the various causes of cognitive decline and potential solutions to help preserve and improve cognitive function as we age. By understanding the factors contributing to cognitive decline and implementing targeted interventions, individuals can maintain a higher quality of life and stay engaged in the activities they love.

Understanding Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline refers to decreased cognitive abilities like memory, attention, impulse control, reasoning, processing speed, and executive function, which can impact mental function, judgment, conversation, and thinking. As we age, it is natural for some decline in cognitive function to occur. However, significant changes can be indicative of disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Comprehensive cognitive assessments are a standard part of our diagnostic protocols at APEX Brain Centers.

In our practice, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals experiencing cognitive decline. Our approach emphasizes functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback. We also utilize balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum cognitive and mental health.

Our experience for the past two decades shows that cognitive health services become significantly more impactful when combined with functional neurology assessments and interventions. Our three primary areas of admission include brain injury (traumatic and acquired), cognitive impairment, and learning and behavioral disorders (OCD, anxiety, ADHD, addiction, etc.).

Recognizing the early signs of cognitive decline, such as difficulties in memory, language, attention, and problem-solving, is essential. Identifying these issues early on enables us to develop personalized treatment plans incorporating leading-edge therapies and lifestyle changes to slow down and potentially reverse cognitive decline.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying socially connected, getting adequate sleep, and partaking in regular physical activity are essential in promoting cognitive health. Additionally, nutritional considerations such as incorporating healthy fats into one’s diet can provide vital nutrients that support brain function. By implementing these proactive strategies, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of cognitive decline and other age-related cognitive impairments, as well as improve from pre-existing challenges.

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Cognitive Decline and Aging

As we age, it’s natural to experience some cognitive decline. This can manifest in various ways, such as slower processing speeds, decreased working memory, and reduced executive cognitive function. However, not all declines in cognition are normal, and certain factors, including race, occupation, underlying health conditions, and more can impact cognitive decline rates.

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand that cognitive decline in older adults, as well as younger folks, is a serious concern. Our evidence-based therapies and comprehensive care approach aim to address the factors influencing cognitive decline and provide effective solutions.

Older adults from diverse racial backgrounds may have different cognitive challenges and require personalized strategies for improved cognitive function. Additionally, occupations that involve high levels of cognitive demands throughout one’s career, such as attending physicians or engineers, may experience a different rate of decline than others. Underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, anxiety, insomnia, thyroid issues, and more also predispose one to cognitive decline.

By concentrating on these three primary areas of admission in which there is great crossover of symptoms – brain injuries (traumatic and acquired), cognitive impairment, and learning and behavioral disorders (OCD, anxiety, ADHD, addiction, etc.) – we aim to create personalized solutions that address the unique challenges faced by each individual we serve.

Causes of Cognitive Decline

Medical Causes

Various medical conditions can contribute to cognitive decline. For example, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are among the most common causes. Stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, hearing loss, and Parkinson’s disease are other medical conditions that can negatively affect cognitive function. Most of these issues have even further underlying causes such as diabetes and blood sugar handling challenges. 

Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle factors can play a significant role in cognitive decline. Smoking, alcohol, and poor diet can contribute to a decline in cognitive abilities. Lack of exercise, depression, anxiety, and loneliness can also negatively impact cognitive function. Sleep quality is another essential factor influencing one’s cognition, as inadequate sleep can lead to decreased focus and memory problems. In fact, poor sleep is being looked at as one of the greatest contributors to cognitive impairment, especially in this tech-dominant world we live in!

Genetic and Environmental Causes

Genetics and environmental factors can influence cognitive decline. A family history of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can increase a person’s risk, as well as exposure to certain environmental factors like pollution and other environmental toxins (which can be tested). Limited access to quality education and low education levels are also associated with cognitive decline in later life.

To address these challenges, we at APEX Brain Centers combine our leading-edge neurological therapies with metabolic support and education to enhance patients’ cognitive abilities and overall well-being.

Other Factors

Other contributing causes of cognitive decline include stress, anxiety, and loneliness. These factors can magnify the effects of medical and lifestyle factors, leading to more substantial cognitive impairment. Research also shows that individuals with a higher education level and those who engage in social and leisure activities tend to experience less cognitive decline as they age. Research also shows that social isolation is closely related to cognitive decline.

At APEX Brain Centers, we recognize that treating and managing cognitive decline requires addressing neurological and psychosocial factors. By offering a comprehensive, integrative approach to care, we strive to help our patients maintain and improve their cognitive health and quality of life.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Cognitive Decline

Recognizing Symptoms

Cognitive decline occurs when there is a change in memory, language, thinking, and judgment. Some of the common symptoms include forgetfulness of recent events or conversations, frequent misplacement of objects, difficulty finding words, and repetition of questions or stories 1. Those experiencing cognitive decline may need to be more mindful or need help keeping track of appointments.

Assessing Cognitive Health

It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to assess cognitive health properly. At APEX Brain Centers, our approach includes evaluating individuals for memory, language, and thinking abilities through various tests and assessments. The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is an introduction, and more complex cognitive assessments that follow are commonly used methods. These tests help gauge mental abilities and identify areas of concern, as well as allow us to demonstrate improvements as treatment progresses. This helps build motivation in patients who have lost it due to their impairments.

Advanced Diagnosis Techniques

In addition to standardized testing, advanced diagnosis techniques such as brain imaging (MRI/CT) and quantitative EEG (qEEG) may be utilized to investigate cognitive decline further. These methods provide valuable insights into the structure and function of the brain, helping to identify any abnormalities or changes that may be contributing to cognitive decline.

Cognitive Decline and Dementia

At APEX Brain Centers, we deal with cases of cognitive decline and dementia every day, understanding their different causes and seeking solutions to help our patients. In this section, we’ll explore the distinctions between the two terms and the most common types of dementia.

Differentiating Cognitive Decline and Dementia

Cognitive decline is a normal part of the aging process, where individuals experience slower processing speeds, decreased memory recall, and difficulties in conversation. However, when cognitive decline accelerates, it becomes pathological and requires intervention. Dementia, however, is a term used to describe a range of symptoms that interfere with daily life, including memory loss, impaired judgment, and difficulty with communication.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is somewhere between normal cognitive decline and dementia. While individuals with MCI might experience more pronounced cognitive changes, they are still able to function independently, and not all cases of MCI progress to dementia.

Types of Dementia

There are several types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Alzheimer’s disease affects memory, thinking, and behavior and accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Individuals with Alzheimer’s might have difficulty remembering recent events, recognizing familiar faces, and making decisions. Vascular dementia is the second most common form, where impaired blood flow to the brain results in cognitive decline. It can cause problems with memory, judgment, and reasoning and may follow a stroke or series of small strokes.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is another type of dementia characterized by abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein, known as Lewy bodies, in the brain. Symptoms of DLB can include problems with attention, visual hallucinations, and motor symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. Progressive laser therapy modalities have been shown to positively impact these protein deposits.

Preventing and Slowing Cognitive Decline

Lifestyle Alterations

One of the critical aspects of preventing and slowing cognitive decline is by making lifestyle alterations. A demented brain needs vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, healthy protein, and healthy fats to improve brain health. Engaging in regular physical activities, such as walking, can also reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Good-quality sleep is essential for the brain’s overall health and may prevent cognitive decline.

At APEX Brain Centers, we encourage clients to adopt a healthy lifestyle by focusing on proper nutrition, engaging in regular exercise, and ensuring adequate sleep.

Cognitive Training and Therapies

Cognitive training and therapies play an essential role in maintaining and improving cognitive function. These techniques involve various activities, such as memory training and tasks focused on reasoning, planning, and attention. At APEX Brain Centers, our approach includes simultaneously combining functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback with cognitive therapies, which have shown to be effective in enhancing cognitive abilities.

Role of Medication and Supplements

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all medication or supplement to prevent or slow cognitive decline, certain medications and supplements may be helpful in specific situations. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any medication or supplement regimen. Our practice at APEX Brain Centers also emphasizes metabolic and nutritional therapies to support overall brain health and functionality.

Importance of Social Connection

Maintaining social connections has been shown to impact cognitive health positively. More frequent social contact in one’s 50s and 60s is related to better cognitive functioning later in life and lowers the risk of dementia. Engaging in social activities, volunteering, and spending time with friends and loved ones helps ward off depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss. We encourage our clients to remain socially active and connected to others and provide opportunities for social engagement as part of our comprehensive care plan.


  1. https://mind.help/topic/cognitive-decline/

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/

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