A lot of people worry about their brain function with aging. People often say, "I don't want to live too long - I don't want to stay alive without my brain." Dementia is not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, all through life, your brain can continue to develop new pathways and connections between neurons. Your brain can even make new neurons. As a person ages, the processing in the brain does slow down, and it does get harder to make those new connections. Exercise actually helps memory. With exercise, you make higher levels of brain-derived growth factor (BDNF), which enable more connections between the nerve cells and allow new neurons to form. Of course, you have to tell the brain where to make these new connections, and that's why you need to engage in mentally stimulating activities your whole life. It's important to challenge your brain in all sorts of different ways as you get older, so that you stay mentally stimulated and connected to the world around you
Ross H. Greenberg, DO
Location and Office HoursWalden M Holl Jr. MD & Associates LLE
256 Kings Hwy E
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
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Does memory weaken with increasing age?
Kelly Traver, Internal Medicine, answered
Why do people age?
Sharine Forbes, Gerontology, answered
People age due to the lack of equilibrium in the body's mechanisms. For example, the production of collagen slows down as one ages due to the mechanisms working so hard during ones "youth". So as the collagen producing mechanisms get older the production of collagen slows down. Thus, ones face does not seem as "youthful" because it no longer has the same amount of collagen present.
What are the keys to staying healthy as I age?
Kevin Soden, MD, Family Medicine, answered
Staying healthy as we age depends on a number of factors. Finding happiness and staying vital is dependent not only on physical factors but also on our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The old axiom of “Use it or lose it” is especially true for both our bodies and our brains as we age. Here are the key strategies that provide the best hope for staying healthy as we age:
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- Exercise at least three to five times per week for at least 30 minutes each time.
- Stimulate your brain through a variety of regular creative activities.
- Eat three meals per day plus two light snacks.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Spend your time and energy with those important to you.
- Cultivate relationships with those who bring positive energy into your life.
- Practice preventive maintenance by making regular visits to your doctor.
- Use strength training twice a week to maintain muscle mass and function.
- Find a purpose in life so that you look forward to getting up each day.