APEX Brain Centers

Living with Cognitive Decline: Tools for Management and Improvement

Living with cognitive decline can be a challenging experience for individuals and their families. As the brain’s ability to process information and perform daily activities diminishes, finding practical tools for management and improvement becomes increasingly important. At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the complexity of cognitive decline and its various stages, and we have developed a comprehensive approach to help our clients address and overcome these challenges.

Our experience over the past two decades has shown that cognitive and mental health services become significantly more impactful when combined with functional neurology assessments and interventions. In our practice, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with cognitive impairment, brain injuries, and learning and behavioral disorders such as anxiety, addiction, and ADHD. We focus on functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback. Additionally, we 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 brain and body health.

By addressing the underlying neurological and metabolic aspects of cognitive decline, we tailor our interventions to the individual’s unique needs and empower them to achieve their goals.

Understanding Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline refers to decreased cognitive functions like memory, problem-solving, language, and attention. It is common in aging and may manifest as forgetfulness, memory complaints, or more severe memory loss. Recognizing the symptoms and signs of cognitive decline is essential to address it adequately and maintain a high quality of life.

Mild cognitive decline might present as occasional forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, or difficulty finding the right words. However, these symptoms do not usually interfere with daily living. When cognitive decline becomes more severe and affects a person’s ability to perform everyday activities, it may progress to dementia or other cognitive disorders. Thus, early detection is crucial for proper management and treatment.

It’s essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle to support cognitive health. This includes regular physical activity, a balanced diet rich in healthy fats, proper sleep hygiene, and social engagement. Cognitive function may also benefit from mental stimulation, such as learning new skills, playing memory games, and participating in brain training programs. Such strategies aim to improve cognition and mitigate cognitive decline; although, these activities will be largely ineffective when underlying neurological and metabolic are at play.

Understanding cognitive decline and its signs are essential for early detection and intervention. At APEX Brain Centers, we are dedicated to helping individuals navigate cognitive challenges and improve their brain function with our comprehensive, leading-edge functional neurological therapies.

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Common Forms of Cognitive Impairments

At APEX Brain Centers, we encounter various forms of cognitive impairment that can affect individuals. Some of the more common conditions include dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia, among others.

Dementia is a general term for a decline in cognitive ability affecting memory, thinking, and communication capabilities. It is estimated to affect 1.8% of people in their 60s, 5.1% in their 70s, 15.1% in their 80s, and 35.7% in their 90s.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is considered an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline associated with aging and more severe conditions like dementia. MCI rates range from 3% to 42% in population studies and 6% to 85% in clinical settings. MCI significantly increases the risk of developing dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for about 60-80% of dementia cases. It is a progressive neurological condition that leads to memory loss, language problems, confusion, and, eventually, an inability to perform daily tasks.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia, caused by impaired blood flow to the brain. Symptoms of vascular dementia include confusion, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating, among others.

Lewy body dementia is another relatively common form of dementia, characterized by abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies in the brain. Symptoms of this condition can include memory loss, visual hallucinations, and fluctuations in alertness.

Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies

As we age, the risk of cognitive decline increases, making older adults particularly vulnerable to this condition. Recognizing the risk factors and implementing prevention strategies early on can significantly reduce the likelihood of cognitive decline and enhance the quality of life for individuals who are at risk. Some of the most common risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, and obesity. Vascular dementia is another risk factor associated with cognitive decline, as it often results from poor blood flow to the brain associated with small vessel disease.

To address these risk factors, we at APEX Brain Centers recommend adopting various lifestyle modifications to reduce cognitive decline risk significantly. For instance, incorporating healthy fats into one’s diet, minimizing the intake of simple and processed sugars, engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing stress can help manage conditions like hypertension and diabetes. Similarly, smoking cessation and avoiding the consumption of excessive alcohol are essential for overall brain health.

For older adults managing hypertension and high blood pressure, regular monitoring and medication adherence when necessary are vital in reducing the risk of cognitive decline. Preventative measures such as managing stress, engaging in relaxation techniques, and maintaining a balanced diet can further support individuals in maintaining a healthy lifestyle that promotes brain health.

Together, these preventive strategies and targeted interventions form a holistic approach to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and enhance overall brain health for older adults facing age-related challenges.

Symptom Management and Interventions

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the challenges faced by those living with cognitive decline and believe in the power of a multifaceted approach to address the unique needs of each individual. Some critical interventions for managing cognitive decline and improving quality of life include personalized treatment plans, caregiver education, and engaging activities to promote brain health.

Educating caregivers on the best ways to support their loved ones is essential. Providing resources and guidance empowers families to create a supportive and enriched environment for those with cognitive decline. Support includes modifying the home to reduce safety risks, promoting healthy eating habits, and encouraging regular exercise and social engagement.

Cognitive training plays a significant role in our treatment approach. These evidence-based techniques help individuals enhance their cognitive abilities and improve daily functioning. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as puzzles, memory games, and problem-solving tasks, can help maintain cognitive function and slow down the progression of decline.

Lastly, it’s essential to address the activities of daily living (ADLs) to ensure the safety and well-being of those with cognitive decline. By assessing and providing appropriate interventions to improve ADLs, we aim to maintain independence and enhance the quality of life for our clients.

Our leading-edge therapies and dedication to comprehensive care make APEX Brain Centers an exceptional choice for individuals and families seeking support to manage cognitive decline and improve their mental health and well-being.

Role of Physical Activity and Lifestyle

APEX Brain Centers recognizes the importance of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle in managing cognitive decline and enhancing overall mental well-being. Regular exercise and incorporating physical activity into one’s daily routine can significantly improve cognitive function, particularly attention, processing speed, and executive function 1.

Aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has been shown to have numerous benefits for those living with cognitive decline. Furthermore, resistance training and balance exercises can contribute to overall physical and mental wellness. At APEX, we incorporate various physical rehabilitation activities into our comprehensive care approach, ensuring that our clients are empowered to influence their cognitive health through exercise and movement positively.

In addition to physical activity, lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and social engagement play a critical role in managing cognitive decline. A diet rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and essential nutrients can support brain health and help protect against cognitive decline. We encourage our clients to adopt a balanced diet emphasizing vegetables, fruits, healthy proteins, and healthy fats while avoiding processed foods and excessive sugar intake.

Participating in stimulating activities such as games, puzzles, and hobbies can also contribute to maintaining cognitive function and overall mental wellness. Further, staying socially engaged and participating in group activities can provide essential cognitive stimulation and emotional support, contributing to a holistic approach to managing cognitive decline.

Impact of Diet and Nutrition

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the crucial role diet and nutrition play in managing/ cognitive decline. Research indicates that a well-balanced diet consisting of various nutrients can significantly impact cognitive performance, preventing or slowing down the progression of cognitive decline.

One key aspect of a healthy diet is regular cold water fish consumption, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are known to have beneficial effects on brain function. They are associated with a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline, as well as neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia 1. We encourage the inclusion of (non-farm raised) fish in your diet to boost brain health and cognitive function.

Sugar, on the other hand, can have adverse effects on cognitive function when consumed in excessive amounts. High sugar intake has been linked to inflammation, oxidative stress, and a higher risk of cognitive decline. Therefore, we recommend minimizing sugar consumption to maintain brain health and prevent cognitive decline.

Alcohol, when consumed in moderation, may have some positive effects on cognitive function, such as improving the cardiovascular system; however, excessive alcohol intake can be detrimental to brain health. Chronic, heavy alcohol consumption has been associated with cognitive impairments, even contributing to various forms of dementia.  It’s crucial to consume alcohol responsibly and in moderation to manage and potentially improve cognitive decline.

Focusing on nutrition, consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, such as those found in fruits, nuts, vegetables, and fish, can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and improve overall brain health. We’re committed to helping individuals with cognitive impairment achieve their cognitive goals through a multifaceted treatment approach, which includes diet and nutrition alongside evidence-based rehabilitative therapies.

Cognitive Health Assessment Tools

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of identifying and addressing cognitive decline in our patients. One of the first steps in this process is utilizing cognitive health assessment tools, which can help us determine the extent of any cognitive impairment and guide our comprehensive care approach.

Several well-established cognitive screening tools are available, often administered by neuropsychologists and other healthcare professionals. Among these tools is the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), a widely used method for detecting mild cognitive impairment. The MoCA measures various cognitive domains, including memory, language, executive function, and visuospatial skills.

Another commonly used cognitive screening tool is the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), which focuses on assessing cognitive aspects such as orientation, memory, language, and attention. Although similar to the MoCA, the MMSE might be less sensitive to mild cognitive impairment.

The Clock Drawing Test is another tool to help evaluate cognitive function, particularly visuospatial and executive abilities. In this simple test, patients are asked to draw a clock face, set the time, and sometimes perform more advanced tasks such as copying complex figures.

We provide comprehensive cognitive testing batteries and questionnaires to meet the needs of all individuals experiencing cognitive decline to any degree.

Role of Healthcare Professionals

Living with cognitive decline can be challenging for individuals and their families. At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the crucial role healthcare professionals play in managing and improving cognitive health. Our interdisciplinary team of healthcare providers collaborates with geriatricians, family caregivers, and other healthcare experts to offer comprehensive care centered around functional neurology.

Regular medical check-ups, cognitive assessments, and the incorporation of the latest screening tools can facilitate early detection and intervention, increasing the potential effectiveness of cognitive improvement strategies.

We support the role of family caregivers by providing essential information, education, and resources to assist them in supporting their loved ones throughout the process. At APEX, our healthcare professionals work alongside families and caregivers to optimize the well-being of individuals with cognitive decline.

Ultimately, the combined efforts of healthcare professionals, family caregivers, and healthcare providers form the basis of a solid support network necessary for the effective management and improvement of cognitive health.

Medication and Treatments in Cognitive Decline

In managing cognitive decline, exploring various treatments and medications is essential to find the best approach for each individual. At APEX Brain Centers, we prioritize functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback in our comprehensive care plan for individuals experiencing cognitive decline.

Some commonly prescribed medications for cognitive decline include cholinesterase inhibitors, which may help improve memory and cognition in the early stages of diseases like Alzheimer’s. However, these medications should be used responsibly and monitored closely to ensure effectiveness. Additionally, it is essential to avoid potentially harmful medications like antihistamines, benzodiazepines, and antipsychotic medications, as they may exacerbate cognitive decline in some cases.

Adopting metabolic and nutritional therapies are also critical components of our holistic approach at APEX. By implementing personalized dietary plans, we can enhance the effectiveness of other treatments and improve each person’s overall health.

Furthermore, we incorporate various other therapies into our practice, including:

  • Low-level laser therapy: Assists with neuronal energy production and inflammation reduction.
  • Balance and vestibular therapies: Help individuals improve their balance, coordination, and spatial awareness.
  • Eye movement rehabilitation: Enhances visual processing and supports better cognitive function.
  • Frequency-based modalities: Utilize advanced technology for targeted brain wave optimization and neurological rehabilitation.

At APEX Brain Centers, we are confident in our ability to offer leading-edge, comprehensive care for individuals experiencing cognitive decline, promoting optimum mental health and overall well-being.


  1. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4811348/

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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