Cognitive Reserve: The IRA of Your Brain

By Christina Sevilla; Center Director and Owner of LearningRx- Denver and Centennial
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We are all familiar with IRA's and other retirement accounts and their purpose: to keep our financial livelihood stable as we age. Financial planners always recommend for us to save a little for our future and always have a emergency reserve account, just in case something catastrophic were to happen. 

Well building up a financial savings isn’t the only type of reserves you should care about; you also need a cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserves are the cognitive skills accumulated over a lifetime and protect your brain from disease and the typical aging process. Cognitive reserves keep your mind stable as you age.

Building this resilience is necessary to protect your mind from harmful diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer's. Two recent articles on these debilitating diseases have caught my attention:

Early Cognitive Problems Documented Among Those Who Eventually Get Alzheimer's from Science Daily discusses new studies showing that even those suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) show difficulty processing basic knowledge questions like "Which is bigger, a key or an ant?" Alzheimer’s patients struggle daily with cognitive skill difficulties in memory, logic and reasoning, and processing speed.

Cognitive Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis from the Dana Foundation discusses the cognitive decline in MS patients. It is a lengthy article with a great deal of important information about what MS is, how it effects cognitive functioning, similarities to Alzheimer’s Disease and treatments. It also talks in depth about the need for a building a cognitive reserve,

“As with [Alzheimer’s Disease], MS patients with high levels of cognitive reserve are less likely to experience cognitive impairment. A study following patients with MS over a five-year period showed that those with a high cognitive reserve at baseline experienced no loss of cognitive function, while those who started with a low cognitive reserve suffered a significant cognitive decline.”

Base intelligence and past education start the foundation for cognitive reserve and brain training is a great way to build upon that foundation. It builds your neurological functioning and keeps you mind fit as you age. Because what good is that IRA if you don't have the brainpower to spend it?

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