How the Aging Brain Affects Thinking

Despite the changes in cognition that may come with age, older adults can still do many of the things they have enjoyed their whole lives. Research shows that older adults can still:

  • Learn new skills
  • Form new memories
  • Improve vocabulary and language skills

Changes in the Aging Brain

As a person gets older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain.

  • Certain parts of the brain shrink, especially those important to learning and other complex mental activities.
  • In certain brain regions, communication between neurons (nerve cells) may not be as effective.
  • Blood flow in the brain may decrease.
  • Inflammation, which occurs when the body responds to an injury or disease, may increase.

These changes in the brain can affect mental function, even in healthy older people. For example, some older adults may find that they don’t do as well as younger individuals on complex memory or learning tests. However, if given enough time to learn a new task, they usually perform just as well. Needing that extra time is normal as we age. There is growing evidence that the brain maintains the ability to change and adapt so that people can manage new challenges and tasks as they age.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about changes in your thinking and memory. He or she can help you determine whether the changes in your thinking and memory are normal, or whether it could be something else.

There are things you can do to help maintain your physical health and that may benefit your cognitive health, too. Learn more about cognitive healthand take steps to help you stay healthy as you age.


Filed under aging, aging brain, successful aging

4 responses to “How the Aging Brain Affects Thinking

  1. As someone who on he 8th reached 76 and have been experiencing a slew of mental changes for some time, this was a very interesting post. The challenge that I have had for some time now is telling myself that my changes are part of normal ageing and not something more significant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • First of all, belated Happy Birthday, Paul! Many happy returns!😀 Secondly, you have articulated exactly one of the problems of being ‘up in years.’ I just had my annual physical last week and I told the doctor that when I get a pain in my stomach I don’t know if it is something I ate or I am dying because one of my organs is failing. The best thing I can advise is to communicate a lot. I know your wife is close to you in age. That helps. Sadly, I have outlived most of my friends. The ones I have now are 20 years younger than I am. On the positive side, every day above ground is a gift to appreciate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I thought that you could be more directive, in a friendly sort of way! 😉
        Seriously, I do speak to Jeannie frequently but keep it fairly lighthearted because she has had Parkinson’s for a few years and my troubles are nothing compared to what she is facing. Anyway, back from a bike ride that I try to carry out every second day! It’s my way of staying as fit as I can so that I can look after Jeannie when it comes to it.

        And thank you for the birthday greetings!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Keep up the good work, Paul. It’s a one day at a time deal.


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