Because our brain helps us to remember, organize tasks, make decisions and plan, its health is essential to living a healthy and independent life.
As we age, many changes occur within our bodies. Muscles are less flexible, our vision changes, it becomes more difficult to do certain physical tasks. Our brain experiences changes as well. One common change in seniors is mild forgetfulness. The depth of this symptom is a marker for normal aging.
We are all going to get older, as are our parents, so let’s look at 6 ways aging affects the brain.
Some Undisputed Facts
Brain functions tend to decline as we age but vary from person to person. There is no size fits all.
Blood flow is reduced in certain parts of the brain especially those related to learning abilities. This is exacerbated by high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fats, as well as smoking. Consequently, brain cells can be reduced prematurely.
Inflammation in the brain increases from prior infections, injury and disease.
Parts of the brain actually shrink and some parts can shrivel as seen on brain scans. These changes can affect short term memory and our ability to learn new things.
Language, vocabulary and verbal abilities decline especially after age 70.
As we age, the brain processes impulses more slowly so the ability to react and perform tasks becomes slower as well.
Our Flexible Brain
In spite of all these negative aspects of the aging brain, there is some good news too. Older seniors can still learn new things, create new memories and improve their vocabulary and language skills. Our flexible brain can still adapt and learn how to do new tasks.
Some call it “cognitive reserve.” The more education one has, how often one reads, engages with others and has experienced various things in their life, the more one can help delay the rate of decline. Many great artists, writers and composers have produced their best works in their 80s and 90s.
If you are a caregiver (or a senior yourself), refrain from assuming that being a certain age limits your abilities or growth. Yes, there are unmistakable changes as we grow older, but we can challenge ourselves to learn and enjoy new things and search out new experiences.
C-Care Health Services can assist in that mission.
Contact us for additional information. We can provide elder care for your loved one at their home or yours.
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