The Tyee, By Jude Isabella
Recent science confirms conventional brain health wisdoms, and throws a few curveballs.
[Editor’s note: Science writer Jude Isabella recently attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Chicago, and her dispatches are running on The Tyee this week. Stay tuned for more.]
To live a dementia-free life, exercise, have at least one friend, live an interesting life, don’t fret, and bring your library books back on time.
Well, it’s not so much about bringing the books back on time as showing conscientiousness, and conscientiousness is good for your brain. Although if you’re neurotic and fret about bringing your books back on time, that’s probably bad for your brain.
It’s a complex road to resilient aging, and what each of us wants to know is the key to growing old without losing too many marbles. “It’s not likely to reside in any one elixir,” said Elizabeth Stine-Morrow, a psychologist at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “There’s a lot of snake oil out there.”
That whole idea of brushing your teeth with your left hand if you’re right-handed? And vice versa? There’s no evidence that increases cognition. You can, however, drink in moderation, maybe even smoke, and have fun (with other people). Phew.
Brain health is a pressing public health concern. A century ago, four to five per cent of people in North America were over age 65. Now it’s up to one-fifth of the population in some areas. (In 2011, the proportion of seniors in Canada was among the lowest of the G8 countries.)
No matter how hard they try, at least when it comes to brain health, Baby Boomers will never turn 70 into the new 20. But some of the most recent science behind resilient aging, presented at last weekend’s American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago, offers a few hopeful, practical suggestions for prolonging dementia as long as possible.
More at the link