How Neuroscience is Explaining the Aging Process
Those working with a geriatric population understand that as individuals age, their mental abilities may slow. Neuroscientists study the aging process with regards to the human brain. Various new medical technologies have enabled these specialists to better understand the effects of aging on elderly individual's brain function. Older adults often develop episodes of impaired short term memory loss and episodic memory loss of certain important life events. While these two mental symptoms are normal for any aging individuals, scientists have discovered that these two specific memory impairments are the best indicators of development of future Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.
Neuroscientist research addresses the neuroscience of aging processes in greater detail. Individuals gradually lose brain matter from age 20 to 60. Most don't even notice these subtle brain differences that typically measure a scant 0.01% brain neuron loss. After age 60, this brain matter neural loss becomes more pronounced. Healthy adults that live until age 90 or older are expected to have a brain mass loss of around 11%. Older individuals often have a delay in remembering speech and other normal functions. This can occur even if the patient remains in very good health.
Studies of the human brain have revealed that stimulating the brain daily can increase a brain's neuron numbers and brain mass. This is thought to help individuals recover after health crises events that affect memory. Those that work with geriatric patients should encourage the patients to learn something new every day. Individuals that have advanced educations often fare better while aging. Stimulating brain function may help patients maintain and might even improve current memory function. Keeping older individuals active with more socialization can also improve a person's overall brain function. As people age, those neuron losses often cause issues that affect balance and gait due to the area of the brain that is affected.
Healthcare providers that serve elder patients should monitor their patients closely following stress events like traumas, surgery and illness. This is a perfect time to gain a Master of Arts in Gerontology degree that teaches students more about this aging process. Geriatric specialists can develop care plans that promote healthy brain function and decrease stress related events. Many nursing homes have an onsite recreational therapist who develops activity care plans to ensure socialization and to maintain healthy brain mass. It is hoped that soon neuroscientists might figure out symptoms that would indicate a cognitive problem such as dementia.
Understanding how the aging brain functions can result in more effective treatments to improve cognitive function. It is important for older adults to keep engaged in things that bring them enjoyment. Healthcare workers can promote better cognitive function by talking to their patients and encouraging activities that can boost their brain function. Involvement in group games, like bingo or cards, can stimulate areas of the brain that aren't used as much as the person gets older. Neuroscientists are developing methods to stimulate brain neurons to increase the individual's cognitive capabilities.
Those that want to learn more about the neuroscience studies currently being performed can find more information with an online search. Individuals interested in furthering their education to work with the elderly should consider enrolling in an online school that offers degrees in gerontology studies.