A worried-looking woman peers up at her brain. She is leaning on a table that has Quirkle game pieces in rows and columns.

AMD, Activities, and Cognitive Decline

Activity loss is associated with cognitive decline in age-related macular degeneration. 1I read this statement and thought “not another thing to worry about in my future!”

Aging with macular degeneration

As we age, we worry about our mental state. Are we going to go down the dementia staircase? Is that “senior moment” the beginning of the decline? If we have vision loss, are we more likely to lose some cognitive function than someone with continued good eyesight? Sadly, it looks that way. But we can do something about it besides just the well-known instructions to take care of our physical health and eat a healthy diet.

Activity loss and cognitive decline

One study showed each additional dropped activity increased the risk of cognitive decline. But the study also showed only 14.4% of the subjects actually declined cognitively. Accounting for multiple variables, the study demonstrated that the number of dropped activities was a strong predictor of cognitive decline after controlling for relevant risk factors, particularly for subjects younger than 80 years of age.1

Their conclusion: Relinquishing valued activities is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline in older patients with vision loss caused by AMD. This data suggests the importance of promoting optimal cognitive and physical health in patients with AMD and perhaps other chronic diseases.1

What does macular degeneration activity loss mean for me?

Only 14.4%. A small number. But I don’t want to be included in that 14.4%! I want to age gracefully with all my faculties intact and with a decent quality of life.

Their study subjects had dry AMD in one eye and newly diagnosed wet in the other. This is me, almost. My one eye with wet AMD was diagnosed just over 3 years ago.

The activities they used in their study were reading, exercise/sports, hobbies, spectator activities, social activities, and cards or games.

Staying mentally and physically active for my eyes and my health

This is now my action plan:

I’ll continue reading, learning, and keeping my mind active by continuing to research, study, and write.

I’ll exercise by getting back to my morning walks when this pandemic is less dangerous for the older demographic. Or, convince myself to get out there by myself. And get back to my weekly chair and standing yoga.

Hobbies are easy. I have too many already that I try to keep up with.

Spectator activities. I don’t normally watch sports. This is one to work on.

Social activities. The coffee get-togethers after each walk with my group cover this, as does the social visit after yoga.

As for cards and games - let me recommend a great game everyone from 6 to 106 can enjoy: Quirkle. It calls for both strategy and luck. At first, I found the orange and red spots were difficult to tell apart without good light, but a quick mark with a white marker fixed that. I play this with a group of friends and also with my grandson.

We are more than statistics

Don’t let these statistics worry you too much. Added stress is definitely not what we need. But use this information as a reminder that we need to still do what we can to maintain our minds and bodies. It may just take a different way of doing it. If you have any suggestions on ways to “maintain the brain” please share. We need all the help we can get.

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