There are benefits to keeping your brain active

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Increasingly, scientists are discovering more evidence of the benefits of keeping your brain labouring, long after you retire from work.

Too many seniors resign themselves to the ravages of age. They will find, however, large benefits from challenging themselves in new experiences and competencies,” Senior Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University William Klemm wrote in Psychology Today.

That the brain transforms as we age is a given. Dr Klemm says shrinkage and other physical differences in older brains are caused by shrivelling nerve tracts, reduced blood flow, decreased hormone levels and a lifetime of exposure to harmful free radicals in our environment.

The British Medical Journal explains that, at different stages of our lives, the changes in  brain function include:

  • from your mid-40s to late-50s: your logic skills are eroded by more than 3 per cent
  • in your 60s: the brain begins to shrink and not only is it more difficult to access a lifetime of knowledge and memories, but the ability to add to it also diminishes
  • in your 70s and 80s: part of the brain known as the hippocampus begins to become inflamed, significantly impairing recall functions.

A failure to keep yourself mentally stimulated may not speed up physical changes in the brain, but keeping your mind active will help to slow cognitive impairment.

“We now know brain function need not decline with age, at least for people who stay healthy and mentally active. By the way, research shows that a lifetime of vigorous learning helps prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr Klemm wrote.

Allowing your brain to retire when you do is a recipe for a host of negative consequences, such as increased short-term memory loss and problem solving.

The good news is that studies have shown that not only is the link between biological ageing and chronological ageing not absolute, it can also be broken.

For tips on how to keep your brain active and healthy after you have hung up your hat, visit Better Health Channel.

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Written by Olga Galacho

3 Comments

Total Comments: 3
  1. 0
    0

    We are doomed hahaha …all doomed.
    So when a President who is 70 is elected to power then one has to wonder about his cognitive abilities??
    I will disagree about the logic skills of the 40-50 years old though. I would argue that this age group is at its most powerful with the combination of wisdom and knowledge, perception and rationale.

  2. 0
    0

    Retirement has liberated me to read and write, finish the crossword and Sudoku, things I actually enjoy where my working life seemed full of irrelevant meetings with people I did not particularly like. Brain is sharper. Never felt better.

  3. 0
    0

    At 70 I am (touch wood) still designing industrial computer hardware and writing software.
    I admit I am making a few more logic mistakes in the 1st pass of design and the coding.
    As a test of your brain state I recommend to do this site’s Code Cracker at breakfast .
    Its score gives me a good hint if I should just write a dull boring report or tackle the bugs in the code I wrote in the days before.


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