Change is an inevitable part of aging. You’ll naturally see a difference in the elasticity of your skin and the preciseness of your memory as you reach your golden years, but you’ll also benefit from the wisdom that comes with being on the planet a while. As time goes on, though, science is gaining an increased understanding of what causes various symptoms of aging.
The focus of many of these studies is cognitive decline, an issue that concerns many older adults. Among many other aging issues, cognitive decline is an area that the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has studied extensively over the years. Here are a few highlights of their studies.
Understanding the Aging Process
The NIA realizes that in order to prevent and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, it’s vital to understand how the brain ages. For that reason, the institute supports research into how various behaviors predict how the brain will age. By gathering this research, the NIA and National Institute of Health can learn more about how factors like location, generation, race, and gender affect brain health.
Developing Healthy Habits
Among the NIA’s many initiatives is communicating information to the public. Part of this is getting the word out to older populations, as well as finding ways to promote brain-boosting behaviors. These include:
More information seems to come out each year about the negative effects of isolation on cognitive health. It’s important to find ways to be socially active each day, whether it’s one-on-one time with a family member or joining in during game time at the local senior center.
You are what you eat. Many studies have linked nutrition to brain health, with certain foods boosting serotonin levels. Foods like vegetables, fruits, and grains are not only good for your body, but they could keep your brain in good shape.
Exercise is often mentioned alongside nutrition for overall health, but it also fits with it when it comes to cognitive fitness. Research has shown that exercise can help stave off and possibly even reverse cognitive decline.
Those sleepless nights can take a toll. Although poor sleep habits don’t guarantee you’ll suffer any cognitive decline as you age, there have been studies that have linked the two.
Although studies are still ongoing, some have linked obesity to an increased risk of cognitive decline. It’s important to note this applies specifically to those who are obese during middle age. Studies into the link between obesity after the age of 65 and cognitive decline have led to conflicting results.
The 21st century has brought plenty of changes when it comes to cognitive health prevention and many of them are easily accessible. Socializing not only has brain-health benefits, but it helps you stay plugged into what’s going on. Check into local senior living communities like Walker Methodist, or just look for a senior community near you that offers regular opportunities to meet people, exercise, and participate in programs like memory care.