Let’s not kid ourselves, there are some downsides to getting older. However, science is finding some pretty good things going on also.
Here are a few examples about aging well from recent reports:
Cognitive Life Expectancy Might Be Longer
Research presented at the annual Population Association of America meeting found that “cognitive life expectancy” has been expanding. Cognitive life expectancy is the amount of time older adults—those over age 65—live with good brain health, not declining brain health. There are, on average, about 12 years of good cognitive health after age 65 for both men and women.
There appears to be a decline in the prevalence of dementia in the United States. A new study shows that “the prevalence of dementia decreased from 12% in 2000 to 10.5% in 2012 in the 65+ population.”
What this means for you: older adults can look forward to more years with good brain health.
Got Friends? Good for You! (Literally)
A study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that mice who lived in groups had better memory and healthier brains than those who just lived in pairs. “Our findings in a mouse model of social network manipulation during aging suggest that encouraging participation in larger social networks may also be a viable non-pharmacological treatment for age-related memory decline,” the study authors stated.
Researchers observed that mice housed in groups showed the ability to remember objects better.
In both humans and mice, brain function declines with age. However, experts say that this study shows social connections can have a positive impact on the brain as we age.
Getting Better with Age
Exercise. Yes, it’s good for you and now research says it might actually improve cognition. Neurology: Clinical Practice published a review in their recent issue which states, “We found that exercising for at least 52 hours is associated with improved cognitive performance in older adults with and without cognitive impairment.”
The research found that thinking ability improved with exercise, not memory.
Recommended exercise includes aerobic activity such as walking, resistance strength training, or a combination. In some respects, it can be like turning back the clock on aging.
OK, you might be getting a little bit shorter, but your brain cells could still be growing. A recent experiment found that older adults can generate the same level of new brain cells as their younger counterparts. This included people in their 80s. There is more research to be done in terms of how cells are connecting after a certain age.
All in all, like other stages of life, being middle age or older isn’t all downhill.
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Not everyone has the same prevalence for dementia, and research shows that African Americans have a significantly higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.