Tags: Alzheimer's/Dementia | aging | brain | cognitive | memory

Four Ways to Stay Sharp With Age

Monday, 04 May 2015 01:22 PM


Forgetting where you placed your keys or having the name of a casual acquaintance on the tip of your tongue are common frustrations that become more frequent as we age. Although we're usually more aware of lapses in memory as we reach our golden years, the changes actually begin decades earlier but are camouflaged by the brain's excess of neurons and its ability to make new connections.

All brains age, says the Institute of Medicine. Known as "cognitive aging," the type and rate of change varies widely among individuals. Some seniors notice few, if any, changes, but others may experience changes in memory, problem solving, the speed of processing information, and changes in learning and decision-making capabilities. Some of the changes are even improvements.

"Changes in mental functions and capabilities are a part of aging and occur with everyone," said committee chair Dan G. Blazer, the J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

"The extent and nature of these changes vary widely and are gradual, and aging can have both positive and negative effects on cognition," he said. "Wisdom and knowledge can increase with age, while memory and attention can decline."

Fortunately, there are four steps you can take to help keep your brain sharp:

• Stay physically active.

• Reduce and manage cardiovascular disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.

• Review your health conditions regularly with a health professional. Be sure to discuss medications that might influence your cognitive health.

• Stay socially and intellectually active.

"We are only really beginning to understand how the brain changes with age," said Victor Dzau, president of the Institute of Medicine. "As the population of older Americans grows, so will the effects of cognitive aging on society. By calling attention to this issue, we can learn more about the risk and protective factors and needed research so older adults can better maintain their cognitive health to the fullest extent possible."

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Forgetting where you placed your keys or having the name of a casual acquaintance on the tip of your tongue are common frustrations that become more frequent as we age. Although we're usually more aware of lapses in memory as we reach our golden years, the changes actually...
aging, brain, cognitive, memory
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2015-22-04
Monday, 04 May 2015 01:22 PM
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