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Monday, November 30, 2015

A purposeful brain

Human Brain     (Public Domain)
Ever wonder why some elders managed to retain cognitive abilities well into their second century, despite having the plaques and tangles that are indicative of Alzheimer’s?

Ashton Applewhite of Huff Post's “The Blog” explores this very question.  She attributes such abilities to “cognitive reserve,” which has been defined as “extra neurons and the connections between them.”

This cognitive reserve is built “by resisting habit and inertia and continuing to learn new things.”  In other words, leading a purposeful life can help offset tendencies toward dementia.

The problem is that society often segregates elders.  In settings such as nursing homes, residents may be relegated to surviving rather than to thriving.  It’s tough to find meaning and incentive when activities mostly consist of passive entertainment.

Applewhite therefore makes a strong case for “helping older people stay engaged and purposeful.”  This makes sense (literally) for elders themselves, as well as for society at large.       


Copyright November 30, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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