Monday, March 10, 2008

How can you keep your memory as your age?

While scientists are constantly searching for answers to cancer and heart disease, many researchers are beginning to concentrate on how we can retain optimal memory and brain functioning as we age.

What they have found is that some older people’s brains forge new pathways when old ones disintegrate. A healthy brain shows that cells don’t die as they age, but they do shrivel and have a harder time sending messages. This is not like Alzheimer’s, which actually kills neurons and disintegrates these connections. In a healthy brain without Alzheimer’s, the brain acclimates when the old pathways shrivel, by rerouting itself and using alternate pathways.

Exercise seems to be one of the main ways to keep the brain and body healthy. In one study on 72-year-olds, their memory improved with a three day a week walking program. Not only that, but brain scans proved that with exercise their brain activity patterns began working like those of younger people.

Another way to keep the brain healthy is common sense: keep learning. Research has shown that taking classes, doing crossword puzzles and keeping the brain stimulated, instead of sitting on the couch watching television, is a great way to keep the brain and memory functions healthy.

Another answer to memory loss might be guanfacine, an old high blood pressure pill that has been found to improve memory in old monkeys and rats. The medication works by keeping the brain networks connected in the prefrontal cortex. This medication has not been tested on the elderly, but is now being studied as a treatment for children with attention deficit disorder.

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