It is no surprise that the lifespan of humans has increased over the years, and new developments are being made on how to further enhance this longevity. However, a longer lifespan may come with a price in the form of neurodegenerative diseases such as: Alzheimer’s disease.
As we age, Alzheimer’s disease becomes more of a concern for us. The reason: Alzheimer’s disease results in profound cognitive impairment and decline in later stages of adulthood/old age. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease has morphed into a more commonly seen condition today than in the past several years.
The goal for many years has been to preserve the cognitive function found in our younger, healthier brains. There have been previous studies conducted on rats showcasing the extensive positive effects of an enriched environment and brain development. Now, scientists may just have the confirmation they’ve been searching for with humans as well.
New studies have validated previous research linking healthy aging brains with an enriched environment. There is a direct correlation between prolonged brain health and the amount of cognitive exercise the brain gets throughout its lifetime. Research has also found it important that we maintain both social and physical activity throughout our life as those factors also correlate with a reduced chance for neurological disease in old age. These healthy lifestyle factors, also known as forms of enrichment, are proven to be the most effective strategies for healthy living in older age – and a chief preventative measure against aging and disease-related cognitive decline.
Research indicates that it is best to begin keeping the human brain active from early childhood for a higher chance of prolonged neurological health. In fact, our research shows that those that are less active from the ages of 20-60 are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease.
So how exactly do we keep ourselves cognitively active enough to prolong our brain health into old age? There are many ways to keep our brains and bodies active, and the activities chosen depend on your preferences. Some ways to remain cognitively active include:
- Proactive learning: teach yourself something new often. Being proactive in your learning styles and studies allows you to remain engaged in your education and keeps your brain active.
- Cognitively demanding occupations: Being in a work environment that challenges your mind to go above and beyond helps to strengthen your brain’s function.
- Cognitive enhancing leisure activities: Strengthening your brain doesn’t always mean work or studying. Activities such as brain games (sudoku, Scrabble, etc.) or reading can also help your brain stay active even while you are relaxing.
UofL Physicians – Neurology involves a worldwide interdisciplinary network of collaboration aimed at developing prevention and treatments for neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and memory loss. To learn more about our Alzheimer’s Center visit the UofL Physicians – Memory & Alzheimer’s Center website today.