these hidden dangers may be affecting your brain health

September 20, 2021

Poor diet, a lack of exercise and social isolation are well-known contributors to cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s. But other factors may be negatively impacting your brain health without your knowledge.

Poor Cardiovascular Health

The head and heart are closely linked, so if one is suffering, so goes the other. Cardiovascular conditions like hypertension, heart disease, arrhythmia and poor circulation affect blood blow to the brain.

Depriving the brain of oxygen-rich blood damages its chemical and structural connections, including the cells and synapses responsible for cognitive function. Cardiovascular diseases affect your brain’s processing speed, memory, verbal recall and learning skills.

Engaging in aerobic exercise, reducing or eliminating nicotine consumption and eating a heart-healthy diet will support good cardiovascular and brain health.

Hearing Loss

Your brain relies on your ears to supply it with auditory stimulation. If you have hearing loss, the part of your brain that interprets sound likely isn’t getting enough input to keep it active. That lack of activity will cause cognitive decline because you’re not flexing those mental muscles.

Hearing loss also makes it difficult to communicate and interact with others. Social withdrawal can lead to isolation, which increases your risk for depression and memory loss.


Certain medications negatively impact brain function, and long-term use can create permanent cognitive damage.

Drugs that slow brain function include:

  • Anticholinergics: This drug is found in medications that treat depression, sleep problems, allergies and bladder function. Common medications include Benadryl, Nyquil, Detrol and Vistaril.
  • Benzodiazepines: These medications are often used to support sleep and ease anxiety. Name brands include Valium, Ativan and Xanax.
  • Non-benzodiazepine sedatives: Drugs such as Lunesta and Ambien require a prescription, but both have been known to impair thinking and balance.
  • Antipsychotics: These drugs, such as Abilify and Zyprexa, are often used as mood stabilizers, but they reduce brain function.

Some medications don’t mix well with others and cause adverse cognitive reactions. You should provide your doctors with a complete list of your medications so they know which drugs to avoid prescribing.

Head Trauma

Whether you’ve recently sustained a head injury or suffered one when you were young, head trauma puts you at risk for cognitive complications. Short-term effects include confusion, memory loss and changes in speech or vision. Depending on your age at the time of the injury, head trauma also increases your risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Here are some tips for protecting your head:

  • Wear a helmet while riding your bike.
  • Wear lace-up or Velcro shoes that provide good support and traction.
  • To lessen the chance of falling, don’t walk around your house in socks or soft slippers.
  • Use a cane or walker to support your mobility.
  • Keep the walkways in your home free of tripping hazards like rugs and electrical cords.

At Embassy Healthcare, we’re committed to providing engaging social activities, exercise programs and quality meals to support our residents’ cognitive health. Call 216-378-2050 or contact us online to schedule a tour.