Getting old is a part of life that cannot be changed. However, just because we get older in years does not mean we have to get older in body and mind. Researchers have recently studied the effects of healthy aging and its impact on the brain in the latest issue of the Cell Press Journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. The study explains that the elderly can still maintain a high level of cognitive functioning and lucidity if they maintain proper brain health in their golden years.
However, measuring a healthy brain is much more complicated than simply investigating the patient's level of education or intelligence. Highly educated people are just as likely as those with no education to have periods of cognitive decline and memory loss with age. Additionally, employment may keep the mind busy and active, but if a worker is not fully interested, his or her job may have little to no beneficial results in maintaining a healthy mind.
That is why researchers have concluded that being fully engaged in tasks is the key to maintaining healthy brain functioning. Those who are completely engaged mentally in projects show cognitive abilities that are just as effective as younger brain.
"Although some memory functions do tend to decline as we get older, several elderly show well preserved functioning and this is related to a well-preserved, youth-like brain," said Lars Nyberg of Umea University in Sweden, and study author.
The authors also explain that even as people age, the brain never loses its ability to accumulate knowledge and learn new skills, suggesting that the study can prompt an important shift in the approach to healthy aging techniques.
Before this study, there was much attention paid to how the brain compensates for cognitive decline. Now, they feel there is a solid argument for prevention and therapies designed to help maintain and actually improve brain functioning in the elderly.