What Happens to an Aging Brain? How to Keep Your Brain Protected
Brain health and longevity are serious concerns for a lot of Americans. In fact, the results of one survey show that 98 percent of adults over the age of 40 consider maintaining brain health to be either somewhat important or very important.
Are you part of this group? Do you have questions like “does the brain age?” and “which parts of the brain shrink the most in later life?”
Read on to learn more about what happens to an aging brain. You’ll also learn what you can do to slow down the aging process and enjoy a higher quality of life as you get older.
What Happens to the Brain with Age?
The brain actually goes through a lot of changes throughout our life.
From infancy until our mid-to-late twenties, our brains are growing and developing. We’re forming new memories and gaining wisdom. When we reach our late twenties, though, the aging process begins, and we start to experience neuron loss.
These losses are minimal at first. However, brain shrinkage with age is common. When we reach our sixties, in many cases, the brain starts to shrink at a more rapid pace.
The areas of the brain that shrink primarily have to do with complex activities and learning new information. Communication between neurons (or nerve cells) can be reduced as well, along with blood flow to the brain. Inflammation may increase, too, which can lead to additional damage and may exacerbate the signs of aging.
Common Signs of Brain Aging
It’s not always obvious that the brain is beginning to age or shrink. The following are some signs and symptoms that people tend to experience as their brains age:
Difficulty with Memory Recall
As you age, you may trouble with both your short-term memory and long-term memory. You might have trouble thinking of words, remembering people’s names, or remembering how to get to places you’ve visited multiple times before.
As the brain ages, multitasking becomes more difficult. You may have once been able to switch back and forth between three or four different tasks with relative ease, but that’s often not the case as the brain and rest of the body get older.
Focusing can be a problem as well. It may be harder for you to pay attention during conversations or keep up with the plot of a movie or television show.
Problems with Executive Function
Many people notice problems with their executive function as their brain ages. For example, everyday tasks like managing finances can become burdensome.
Changes in Mood/Personality
In some cases, it feels as though your personality changes when your brain starts aging. You might find that you lose your temper more easily or start to struggle with anxiety and depression.
Problems with brain health and brain shrinkage can contribute to poor balance as well. People whose brains are aging at a rapid pace may be more prone to tripping and falling than others.
How to Slow Down an Aging Brain
It may not be possible to prevent an aging brain altogether. It’s a natural part of life, after all. You can, however, take steps to slow down the aging process and minimize your risk of experiencing severe cognitive deficits brought on by conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The following tips will help you reduce the rate at which your brain ages:
Exercise on a Regular Basis
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your brain healthy and young. Try to get between 75 and 100 minutes of exercise per week, and focus on a combination of strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and stability exercise. This will help to offset potential balance issues that may occur as you age, too.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet will help to minimize inflammation in the brain and body. It’ll also help you ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of the nutrients your brain needs to thrive. This includes antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats from sources like fish, avocados, and olive oil.
Being mindful can help you to feel less stressed and may strengthen the memory centers of your brain. People who meditate actually tend to have larger hippocampi (a part of the brain associated with learning and memory) than those who do not. Practicing mindfulness for just a few minutes a day can have a big impact on your brain health.
Get Enough Sleep
Make sure you’re sleeping enough, too. Insufficient sleep can lead to higher levels of inflammation. It also prevents the body from going through the “clean up” processes it normally goes through at night, which helps to get rid of waste and keep all the organs functioning well.
Having strong social connections is great for maintaining brain health as you age. Try to spend time with friends or family members a few times per week. It’s best if you can see them in person, but when that’s not an option, talk on the phone or send emails or text messages to keep up with those you love.
Finally, it’s important to keep learning and challenging yourself as you age. Participate in activities like crossword puzzles or take lessons to make sure your brain stays sharp.
Talk to your doctor, too, to learn about brain health on a deeper level and see what other recommendations they have for minimizing signs of aging.
Start Taking Care of Your Brain Today
Along with the rest of the body, the brain does age as you get older. However, there are a lot of steps you can take to slow down an aging brain and protect yourself from some of the negative symptoms that can accompany the aging process.
If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy a higher quality of life for a longer period of time. You’re never too young to start caring about brain health, either. The sooner you get started, the better.
Don’t forget to check out some of our other health-related articles as well. They’ll give you more insight into the changes you can make to live long and prosper.
Natalie Throngrit wrote this article on behalf of. FreeeUp this the fastest growing freelance marketplace in the US. FreeeUp only accepts the top 1% of freelance applicants. Click here to get access to the top freelancers in the world.
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