Age Your Brain Well
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It also means that older adults may perform better than younger people at those mental tasks that require depth of experience or knowledge. Fluid intelligence, on the other hand, refers to abilities related to processing power, taking in new information, problem-solving with new or less familiar information, and reacting quickly.
In general, the diagnosis of MCI requires objective evidence of cognitive difficulties that is beyond what would be considered normal, but not bad enough to qualify as dementia. But the person should still be able to manage daily life tasks. Otherwise, there are some signs and symptoms that are very unlikely to be due to cognitive aging alone.
Such changes in behavior can be caused by a variety of different health conditions, none of which should be ignored. In short, cognitive aging means that as we get older, our mental functions become less nimble and flexible, and many aspects of our memory get a little worse. We also become more easily distracted by busy environments, and it takes more effort to work through complex problems and decisions.
This often helps people feel happier as they get older. But, this can make it harder for older adults to plan ahead to avoid problems, or to think through decisions that generate negative emotions. These changes to the aging brain can also make older adults more susceptible to deception and financial exploitation. But there certainly are things that you can do! I would categorize them into two key categories:. Here are some useful resources that provide a more detailed list of suggested actions:.
Take sensible steps and precautions to compensate for cognitive aging changes. These might include:. I must say that after researching this article, I found myself thinking that we should all consider making an effort to deal with big complicated mental tasks e.
Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?
Because the longer one waits, the harder it becomes for the brain to think through complicated decisions. We are now participating in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, so if you buy through links on our site, Better Health While Aging will earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.
Thank you for your support!
One of the most comprehensive and easy-to-understand article I have read. And I really appreciate the sensible suggestions and helpful links provided. Thank you. Excellent overview Dr. This will help many people who are concerned about the changes in their word-finding and memory skills. Lots of great info on the aging brain. Thank you! Your article was most informative, clearly written, and truly valuable. However, I also noted written permission could be requested.
However, if all you want to do is link to it, no permission is required…the law and Internet etiquette allow anyone to link to publicly available online information, permission is only required to do things like repost to another site, reprint and distribute, etc. I am 72 year old and had a mom and grandmother with Alzheimers.
This is a wonderful article full of sooo much information. This should be a must read for all older individuals. Thank you so much. Glad you found it helpful! Thank you for your continued work in educating us on the aging process in a thorough, grounded and understandable way!
I have been truly blessed by your work. Thank you for this extremely comprehensive overview on the subject. It is a valuable resource for helping to allay unnecessary fears and inaccurate conclusions a healthy patient may have or develop about their mental processing ability. I find the article very relevant at this stage of my life. I would love for this type of information to foster a little more understanding — and better communication — between older adults and their adult children.
Maybe that will be easy for older adults to share with their families. I appreciate your web sight and your writings!! After all if it would help those that may follow, its important for knowledge to be acquired!! Kindest of regards!! Thanks for this comment and for sharing your story.
How Your Brain Changes with Age - Canyon Ranch
For help figuring things out, you might want to see if you can connect online with other patients who have similar health challenges. SmartPatients and PatientsLikeMe are two site that help people connect for this purpose. Such online communities can share research, provide moral support, and more.
Good luck! I read everything you write and always learn something, but this article wins the top award. I am 81 with a still very good memory but I am going to keep this one forever. Thank you for all your caring information. Thank you for letting me know and glad to have you as part of our community. I also play brain games with web app called Lumosity daily to measure speed, memory, problem solving. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
Please keep it coming! So glad to know you found this helpful.
Seeing an older parent decline cognitively can certainly be a wake-up call. Research suggests that making changes at this age can make a difference later on. Take care! Kernisan: Your clear presentation of normal cognitive changes in aging is quite reassuring to my friends and I in our mids. So, whether and where to refer someone who seems to have MCI or dementia depends on a few things. Memory centers based at academic medical institutions are probably the best equipped to evaluate cognitive issues.
I think they are especially valuable for people who are younger, such as in their 60s or early 70s, and for people who have more unusual signs and symptoms. A comprehensive evaluation at such a center will include neuropsychological testing, which basically means more involved and detailed testing of cognitive functions. It is also possible to get neuropsychological testing on its own, but if one is going that route, I think it helps to have the more comprehensive and detailed evaluation of the memory center, to help interpret the neuropsych testing results.
In principle, a PCP can also simply refer to a neurologist for cognitive impairment. I do think the more detailed testing and evaluation done by memory centers and neuropsychologists tends to get less helpful as people get older e. What does help is detailed evaluation of behaviors and coming up with behavior management strategies, and family caregiver coaching. This is THE only website older adults and caregivers or future caregivers need. I wish everyone would read such adviuce soioner rather than later.
Thank you Doctor K. Thanks so much for this comprehensive post. This level of detail with links to more information is extremely helpful and manageable.
How to boost brain power at any age
Loved your article it was very informative. How old is this article? Glad you found it helpful. This article was first published in August I am I was just accepted into one of the senior communities that has advanced long term care, should you need it. But entrance required passing a medical evaluation. Part of that was a cognitive test.
It has 30 tasks, a well-known one is drawing a clock set at 10 after eleven.
What's a parent to do?
Hooray, I passed I only missed that 1 task. See, I remember NOW. Too bad not then for that coveted perfect score. Such a perfectionist. Thank you, Dr. You perform an extremely valuable public service with the articles you share. Outstanding, to say the least. Thanks for your great efforts. Aw…well I appreciate you letting me know you are reading the posts. Kernisan, I have a 94 year old mother in assisted living with dementia, but who mostly is fine physically.
I also look at them as guidelines for my husband and me, as we are now Thanks for being sincere, helpful, and caring. You do a great service with this website, and I will continue to subscribe to it. Thank you for this wonderfully detailed yet readable article. My year old mom also really loved it!
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And — they feel empowered when its respectfully presented so they can understand it! Thanks for the enlightening article. I will really consider the take away suggested to maintain a good enough working brain. I play Klondike solitaire online every night. Have not tried Lumosity because some of these brain exercise websites did not get good reviews. Your email address will not be published. The material on this site, including any exchanges in the comments section of the blog, is for informational and educational purposes only.
Any comments Dr. Kernisan and a caregiver, or care recipient. Scientists are currently piecing together sections of the giant puzzle of brain research to determine how the brain subtly alters over time to cause these changes. In understanding the neural basis of cognitive decline, researchers can uncover which therapies or strategies may help slow or prevent brain deterioration.
Several brain studies are ongoing to solve the brain-aging conundrum, and discoveries are being frequently made. Recently, researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York revealed in a mouse study that stem cells in the brain's hypothalamus likely control how fast aging occurs in the body. Dongsheng Cai, Ph. By replenishing these stem cells or the molecules they produce, it's possible to slow and even reverse various aspects of aging throughout the body.
Injecting hypothalamic stem cells into the brains of normal old mice and middle-aged mice, whose stem cells had been destroyed, slowed or reversed measures of aging. The researchers say this is a first step toward slowing the aging process and potentially treated age-related diseases. They found that the brains of SuperAgers shrink at a slower rate than their age-matched peers, which results in a greater resistance to the typical memory loss observed with age, thus revealing that age-related cognitive decline is not inevitable. By studying how SuperAgers are unique, the researchers hope to unearth biological factors that might contribute to maintaining memory ability in advanced age.
Factors have been discovered that speed up brain aging. For example, obesity in midlife may accelerate brain aging by around 10 years, and both sugar and diet varieties of soda are correlated with fast-tracking brain age , having smaller overall brain volume, poorer episodic memory, and a shrunken hippocampus. A growing body of evidence suggests that people who experience the least declines in cognition and memory all share certain characteristics:. Recent research highlights a plethora of ways that we can actively take charge of our health and perhaps decrease the rate at which our brains age.
One intervention that crops up time and time again to stave off age-related mental decline is exercise. A combination of aerobic and resistance exercise of moderate intensity for at least 45 minutes each session and on as many days of the week as possible has been reported to boost brain power in people aged 50 and over significantly. Likewise, other research by the University of Miami found that individuals over the age of 50 who engaged in little to no exercise experienced a decline in memory and thinking skills comparable to 10 years of aging in 5 years, compared with those who took part in moderate- or high-intensity exercise.
Essentially, physical activity slowed brain aging by 10 years. Dancing has also shown to have an anti-aging effect on the brain of seniors. A study conducted by the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany found that while regular exercise can reverse the signs of brain aging, the most profound effect was seen in people who danced. Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto, Canada, revealed why playing a musical instrument may help older adults ward off age-related cognitive declines and retain their listening skills.
Researchers found that learning to play a sound on a musical instrument changes brain waves in such a way that improves an individual's listening and hearing skills. The alteration in brain activity indicates that the brain rewires itself to compensate for disease or injuries that might prevent a person's ability to perform tasks. A key component of brain health is diet. Recent research has linked omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood with healthy brain aging. Another study has also determined that consuming foods included in the Mediterranean or the MIND diet is associated with a lower risk of memory difficulties in older adults.
Research by the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, discovered that middle-aged people who have higher levels of lutein - a nutrient that is found in green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, and eggs and avocados - had similar neural responses to younger individuals than of people the same age. However, research has shown that this process can start earlier than expected. You can even start to see some differences in the 30s," informs Anne Walk, a postdoctoral scholar and the first author of the study. If lutein can protect against decline, we should encourage people to consume lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit.
The number of American adults over the age of 65 is set to more than double in 40 years, rising from Due to this aging population, it will become increasingly important to understand the cognitive changes that go hand in hand with aging. While many questions remain regarding the aging brain, research is making progress in illuminating what happens to our cognitive functions and memory throughout our lifetime, and it is emphasizing ways we can preserve our mental abilities to improve our quality of life as we advance into older adulthood.
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Brain aging is experienced by everyone differently.