You’ve probably heard the old saying that we somehow “lose brain cells” as we age?
Well, according to researchers, that’s only part of the story. New studies show that adults can continue to create neurons even in old age.
Neurons are simply nerve cells that transport information from one part of the body to the other. There are roughly 86 billion neurons in the human brain. From birth, our bodies create about 250,000 brain cells a minute in order to reach that number.
Seniors have the ability to make about 700 hippocampal new neurons every day. That’s encouraging news because the hippocampus is the area in the brain that helps us learn new information, manage emotions and store long-term memories.
But here’s what happens as we age.
We tend to lose neurons over time, which starts to affect our ability to maintain or separate new memories. We also create less of the blood vessels in our bodies that are vital to keeping blood flowing to our brains. Our brain cells undergo chemical and electrical changes. There will be fewer connections among cells and changes in the chemicals that communicate between cells.
A decrease in the number of the stem-like progenitor cells may be one of the reasons older loved ones sometimes struggle with the ability to adjust to stressful situations or setbacks. Researchers also say that as we age, brain cells in the hippocampus often have a diminished supply of oxygen and nutrients.
In addition to being able to produce new brain cells, scientists say there are ways your loved one can encourage this process on their own. Here a few tips Freedom Home Care came up with.
Studies show that depression can slow the production of neurons – long-term, it can reduce the hippocampus by 10 percent. Although there is no way to totally prevent depression, your senior can guard themselves against it by eating and sleeping well, getting routine check ups from their doctor and staying connected to family and friends.
Aerobic exercise is not only good for your physical health, it’s also good for your mental health as well. According to researchers, sustained aerobic exercise like swimming, jogging and power walking can help create more neurons than resistance training.
Studies suggest that neurogenesis may help ward off Alzheimer’s and treat and prevent depression. Some ways your senior can help increase the number of new neurons their brain produces is through neurobics.
Neurobics are brain exercises that aid in boosting the memory. This can be done by learning new things, using your non-dominant hand to do tasks and playing 3-dimensional video games.
Ask your Chicago senior home care professional for more tips on how to increase brain health.