Keeping mind active improves aging memory

Image courtesy Amanda Mills for the Centers for Disease Control.
Image courtesy Amanda Mills for the Centers for Disease Control.

Feeling forgetful? Don’t automatically blame your “aging brain.”

Our expert at Baylor College of Medicine’s Huffington Center on Aging, says memory loss has relatively little to do with growing old.

“There is the assumption that memory fails when we get older when in fact, memory stays stable into old age,” said Dr. Anita Woods, a geriatrician at Baylor College of Medicine’s Huffington Center on Aging.

Woods adds that there are some normal changes in memory function expected as we age. The delayed recollection of names, for example, is not due to a deteriorating brain, but to a slowed down central nervous system and decreased cognitive energy.

Older brains have an incredible potential for regeneration and growth, she said. Just as the body needs to be conditioned to stay healthy, it is important to exercise your brain with mental activities to keep neurons firing at an old age.

“Meaningful mental activities, whether it’s doing a crossword puzzle or debating with loved ones or friends, keeps the mind active,” she said. “Also, a high level of social engagement is correlated with good memory performance in old age.”

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