As we get older, we become aware of changes in our bodies. Our skin loses its elasticity, gets drier and wrinkles and age spots become visible. It also becomes difficult for us to read up close because the lens found inside the eye loses flexibility.
But what about the brain? What happens to our brain as we age?
According to the National Institute on Aging, the brain has control over how we think: how we remember, plan, organize, make decisions etc. Our cognitive abilities have an effect on how we deal with our daily tasks and whether we are capable of living independently. As we age, changes in our brain occur:
- Some parts of the brain constrict, particularly those that are vital to learning and other challenging mental activities
- The flow of blood in the brain may be reduced
- Inflammation may increase
Transmission between nerve cells in some regions of the brain may not be as efficient as before
Common Memory Changes
What happens to our brain as we age? What are the changes that we can notice?
Medical News Today shares that as people get older, “slips of the mind” take place. Those who reach the age of 20 often experience this but pay no attention to it as they thought it is only trivial. But for older adults, memory lapses are enough to get them worried because they associate these with Alzheimer’s disease and impaired memory. However, these and other dementias do not relate to the normal aging process.
Some common memory changes in normal aging:
- It takes longer for us to process new information; thus, it becomes hard for us to learn something new.
- When we reach the age of 20, our strategic memory also declines so that it also becomes difficult for us to recall numbers and names.
- Forgetting appointments is typical unless there will be cues or instances that will make us recall it.
- Because of the slowed processing of our brain, multitasking does not work anymore or becomes difficult.
What Differs Age-Related Changes from Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Early Warning Signs?
The Alzheimer’s Association provided this table for comparison:
It’s best not to ignore what happens to our brain as we age. There are therapies available to help slow down brain aging. Particularly, we must pay attention to the senior loved ones in our household if we notice that they are already showing warning signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Consult a medical professional as they may already need senior care.