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What does “normal aging” mean? Do we all age the same way?

Healthy SeniorsHere is question 12 of 25 from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions. To download the complete version, please click here.

Question:
What does “normal aging” mean? Do we all age the same way?

Key Points:

  • Age-related cognitive decline typically starts at about 40 when your brain processing speed slows down.
  • At the same time, older adults have generally acquired more knowledge and wisdom, but may still have difficulties memorizing specific information.
  • The more education people have and the more their minds are challenged throughout lifetime, the less they suffer from age-related decline.

Answer:

Generally, getting older both reduces your attentional capacity and the capacity for learning new information, and increases your brain processing requirements. Basically, it takes more and more inhibition skills to tune out distractions and stay focused. Individuals will vary in how and when they feel these decreases, but they will eventually occur.

Fortunately, a great deal of research has shown that practicing cognitive skills encourages their preservation and development at all ages. Research into cognitive reserves found that the more education people had and the more their minds were occupied, the less they suffered from age-related decline. People who remain intellectually active and engage in hobbies reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by one third. All of these facts show that cognitive training — exercising your brain — helps protect your brain against decline in memory, concentration, and information processing.

So, plan your brain fitness program now. It’s never too late or too early.

Further Reading:

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