One of the major concerns among the seniors in my acquaintance is declining mental functions. When the Healthy Transitions Program® at Northwestern Memorial had a talk on Alzheimer’s, it was to a packed auditorium. I confess that I share this concern, too, because of the dementia and Alzheimer’s in my family.
Gro Amdam an Arizona State University professor says, “We show that social relationships can heal older brains.”
Professor Gro Amdam, led a 15-member team of scientists from ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences on a three-year research project studying honeybees and trying to turn back the clock on aging, according to AZ central.com.
Amdam’s research showed that the brains of older honeybees turned back the clock when they began caring for baby bees, a task usually done by younger bees.
Such social interventions – how you deal with your surroundings – could be used to treat or slow dementia in humans.
“The older bees who cared for the babies significantly improved their ability to learn new things. Scientists also found molecular changes in their brains, including higher levels of brain proteins that can heal cells. The bees that continued to forage did not show any positive change in brain function, “AZcentral reported.
Older people could slow, and perhaps even overturn, some aspects of brain aging by enjoying social activities that they did when they were younger, she said. Taking care of children may have particularly positive effects, but other activities, such as imaginary play, starting a band or engaging in cooperative two- or multi-player video games, may have similar benefits, Amdam said.
I love the idea of playing. I wrote a post for my blog Willingwheeling about some acrylic design shapes that I ‘play’ with. Please understand that this is pure play. It is not like doing crosswords or sudoku puzzles in an effort to slow aging. Those only build skill at crosswords or sudoku, they don’t grow working memory.
The study above was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, Pew Charitable Trusts and the Research Council of Norway.