Critical warning about the slippery slope of cognitive decline

It might be the middle of summer, but I know some folks who've always got one eye on the calendar, counting the days until they can hit the slopes again.

But while skiing is fun, there's also an element of danger. You have to be aware of what's going on around you at all times, because even a few snowballs tumbling past you can be the first warning sign of an avalanche, especially on the backcountry slopes.

When you see them, you know time is of the essence.

You have to recognize the warning signs -- and fast -- or you could find yourself in a fight for your life before you know it.

Cognitive decline is a lot like that looming avalanche. Recognize it early, and you can avoid the disaster.

But if you let it continue to snowball, you could quickly find yourself in trouble.

And ladies, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you have to act even quicker than the guys. Not only are dementia and Alzheimer's disease more common in women, but new research also finds that cognitive decline progresses much faster once it sets in.

In fact, cognitive decline can progress at double the speed in women than in men, according to research presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

It's not just gender alone. Certain other factors can also speed the decline, such as surgery, especially surgery that involves general anesthesia. But while the study finds that anesthesia will speed the decline in men and women alike, once again the ladies get the short end of the straw: It'll still progress faster in them.

It might be tempting to shrug and assume it doesn't matter if you've heard there's no way to stop or even delay the onset of dementia.

But you've heard wrong.

Natural therapies can slow the progression of the disease and in some cases even reverse it, especially if it turns out the cognitive decline isn't the precursor to dementia after all but one of the conditions that can mimic it.

Metals, for example, can accumulate in the brain causing memory loss and other dementia-like symptoms. In these cases detoxifying therapies can make all the difference in the world... but only if you get them in time.

Another common cause of cognitive decline is medication, especially widely used drugs such as statins. If you can replace the drugs with natural therapies, you can often stop it cold.

I recommend working closely with a holistic medical doctor.

Just remember: Time is of the essence, and the best time to get help is as soon as you spot that first snowball tumbling down the mountainside.