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How does aging affect the brain?
Aging affects our brains in a number of ways. To begin with, it does make our brains shrink a little bit, but this usually does not cause too many problems except with the speed of our memory retrieving. A good example is, if you have a computer that you’ve had for some years and you’ve stored all of your information on it, you know the information is there, it just takes a little while to find it and to pull it up.
Another way that the brain is affected with age is it becomes less resilient to things that happen to us throughout our lives. As we age and things happen such as an infection, as pneumonia, or a bladder infection or a fall, our brain isn’t able to accommodate or to respond to that stress with quite the same vigor as we were when we were younger, and this often leads to the phenomenon where folks who are in their seventh, eighth and ninth decades of life get hospitalized for a bladder infection or get hospitalized for a mild bronchitis whereas in their 20s and 30s and 40s it would not have slowed them down that much.
How can I keep my brain sharp as I age?
A way to keep your memory sharp is to remember that although the brain is not a muscle, it follows many of the same rules. And that is if you use it, you won’t lose it.
Can the brain improve with age?
The brain can also improve with age in terms of making connections between things. As we get older we have more experiences in our life and we can see relevance and similarities in experiences that we may not have been able to see when we were younger. And you often will find folks that have been around a while often have the most wisdom to give because they’ve seen many of these same things in the past when it’s new for younger folks.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's senior health services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about senior health, read the Senior Health News archive.