When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it. ~Mark Twain
MEMORY <ul><li>Memory enables us to know who we are, along with what are values, beliefs and goals are. Memory allows us to recall important and minuet events in our lives, and to plan for our future. It gives us the ability to accumulate and make use of vast reservoirs of information about objects, places, people, social customs, language and individual areas of study. </li></ul><ul><li>There are skills that we develop over our lifetime that occur in an almost automatic nature that depend on memory. </li></ul><ul><li>Reading </li></ul><ul><li>Typing </li></ul><ul><li>Swimming </li></ul><ul><li>Driving </li></ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul><ul><li>Dancing, etc. </li></ul>
<ul><li>85% of adults age 65 and older do not show significant declines in memory ability and are able to live independently (Ober, 2010). </li></ul><ul><li>The natural memory loss that occurs with aging may be compacted by a few conditions, causing the memory loss process to speed up or become more severe than it would have naturally occurred. Sleep apnea, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, diabetes , hypothyroidism, hormone imbalance, medication side effects and a deficiency in vitamin B12 or niacin can all heighten memory loss. </li></ul><ul><li>On average even a healthy person can expect to lose about 1% of his nerve cells (including brain cells) each year starting in our twenties. So an average seventy-five year old could expect to function with only about one-half of the memory functioning that he enjoyed in his younger years (Wei, Levkoff, 2000). </li></ul>
THREE TYPES OF LONG-TERM MEMORY <ul><li>Episodic memory- involves the conscious recollection of episodes or events and specific details about them. Numerous studies show that recollection is more negatively affected than familiarity in aging. </li></ul><ul><li>Semantic memory-involves “world knowledge” in a very broad sense: objects, languages, places, facts/trivia, and all sorts of other topics which one is, or is not, an expert. Not only preserved, but shows improvement until around the eighth decade of life, after which a gradual decline can be observed. Although our vocabulary knowledge is mostly protected from age-related loss, the ease that we are able to think of the words is not. This is called the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon (TOT). </li></ul><ul><li>Procedural memory- includes sensory-motor skills, learning and memory for procedures, sequences and rules to solve tasks and puzzles, and repetition priming. Procedural memory is quite well preserved in normal aging. </li></ul>
STRUCTURAL CHANGE DUE TO AGING <ul><li>Computed Tomography (CT) studies have shown that the cerebral ventricles expand as a person ages, this process is known as ventriculomegaly </li></ul><ul><li>The medial temporal lobe, frontal lobes, and frontal-striatal dopaminergic pathways are very vulnerable to age-related decline, which are responsible for memory functions </li></ul><ul><li>Age effects on grey matter density in the posterior temporal cortex appear more predominantly in the left over the right hemisphere, and were contained to posterior language cortices </li></ul><ul><li>Age-induced cognitive deficits are not due to neuronal loss or cell death, but as a result of small region-specific morphology of neurons </li></ul><ul><li>Brain weight and volume decrease. On average, the brain loses 5-10 percent of its weight between the ages of 20 and 90. </li></ul>
CHEMICAL CHANGES DUE TO AGING <ul><li>Decline in dopamine synthesis in the striatum and extrastriatal regions is thought to be responsible for many neurological symptoms that increase in frequency with age, such as decreased arm swing and increased rigidity (Ravaglia, Forti 2010). May also cause changes in cognitive flexibility. </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in amount of detectable iron, not much is known as to why it accumulates with age. Iron is important in many of the enzymes in the brain but high levels of reactive iron can lead to oxidative stress. </li></ul><ul><li>Calcium dysregulation occurs due to aged brain mitochondria being depolarized and no longer being able to take up calcium from the cytosol when calcium ions accumulate there (Esiri, 2007). </li></ul>
BRAIN PLASTICITY AND AGING <ul><li>Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to change structure and function. The phrase that is tied to this is “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” This phrase, simply put, means that by increasing amounts of mental activity aging adults are able to have higher levels of cognitive functioning. The changes in our abilities to process calcium will influence neuronal firing and the ability to propagate action potentials, which in turn would affect the ability of the brain to alter its structure and function. </li></ul>
Brain aging is the major risk factor for most common neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES DUE TO AGING <ul><li>Alzheimer’s disease usually begins after age 60, and risk goes up with age. About 5 percent of men and women ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s disease, and nearly half of those age 85 and older may have the disease. It is important to note, however, that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language and can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. </li></ul><ul><li>Parkinson’s Disease is one of a group of diseases classified as a motor system disorder. Its most obvious symptoms are tremors or trembling of the hands, arms legs and face, stiffness of the limbs and trunk, slowness of movements and impaired balance and coordination. It is a chronic, progressive disease with symptoms growing worse over time and leading to total disability and dependence. The National Parkinson’s Foundation explains that symptoms first start to appear when damage affects 60 to 80 percent of dopamine-producing cells, preventing them from making adequate levels of dopamine. The cumulative and progressive nature of the damage means that the risk of diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease increases with advancing age. </li></ul><ul><li>Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, commonly called “Lou Gehrig's disease” in the US) is the most common motor neuron disease in adults. ALS affects both upper and lower motor neurons throughout the brain and spinal cord. Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. </li></ul>
MENTAL DISORDERS IN AGING BRAIN <ul><li>An estimated one million people 65 years old or older are depressed. Depression may be related to another medical problem or to medications and should be assessed by a physician (Wei, Levkoff, 2000). </li></ul><ul><li>The failure in normal healthy aging leads to mental disorders in aged population. </li></ul><ul><li>Bipolar disorder has become a major geriatric mental health problem. It affects about 1% of the population and causes extreme neuropsychological impairments and has been the cause in functional impairment. (Sathyanarayana, 2010). </li></ul><ul><li>There have been recent studies that have shown a link between late-life depression and Alzheimer’s Disease suggesting that depression may lead to the development of AD in some individuals (Wei, Levkoff, 2000). </li></ul>
<ul><li>So you may be wondering what can you do to maintain and improve brain and memory functions as you age? </li></ul>
<ul><li>Get regular checkups with your physician and make it a goal to maintain healthy blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels </li></ul><ul><li>Engage in challenging and interesting cognitive activities </li></ul><ul><li>Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day </li></ul><ul><li>Be involved in social activities, whether its community organizations, clubs , etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables </li></ul><ul><li>Eat fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids several times per week, or take a daily supplement for omega-3 fatty acids </li></ul><ul><li>Keep stress levels as low as possible </li></ul><ul><li>Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night </li></ul>
Annotated Bibliography Esiri, MM. (2007). Ageing and the brain. Journal of Pathology, 211, 181-187. doi: 10.1002/path.2089 Article that summarizes the macroscopic and microscopic levels in the brain due to ageing. This article had very useful information on structural and functional changes in the brain in the aging person. Ober, B.A. (2010). Memory, brain and aging: the good, the bad and the promising. California Agriculture, 64(4), 174-182. Retrieved from EBSCO host . Article that had useful information on how aging affects memory loss and ways that memory loss and function can be reduced. Ravaglia, G., & Forti, P. (2010). The Conselice Study of Brain Ageing. Immunity & Ageing, 71-6. doi: 10.1186/1742-4933-7-S1-S2 Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Study to determine the effects of alpha-1 antichymotryspin (ACT) and N-Glycanase in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Findings were that these levels could determine AD clinical progression.
Sathyanarayana Rao, T.S.. & Rao, K.J. (2010). New evidence on Iron, Copper accumulation and Zinc depletion and its correlation with DNA integrity in aging human brain regions. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 52(2), 140-144. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.64590 Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Study of effects of different levels of Iron, copper and zinc and how it effects DNA in the aging person. It also covered how these levels may affect mental disorders in the aging brain. Wei, Jeanne M.D. & Levkoff, Sue Sc. D. Aging Well: The Complete Guide to Physical and Emotional Health. 2000. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York, NY. This book gave great information about how to stay healthy when coping with age related illnesses and what to expect when dealing with these illnesses. Youtube: Empowered Health News- How are brain changes with age.