Changes in the Aging Brain

Younger woman visiting her grandmother

As we age, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain.

Normal changes include:

  • Certain parts of the brain shrinking, especially those important to learning and other complex mental activities.
  • In certain brain regions, communication between 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.

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 continue managing new challenges and tasks as they age.

If you have concerns about your memory or any changes you’re experiencing, be sure to talk with a doctor about what you’re experiencing. Memory and thinking problems may have many possible causes and talking with your doctor to find the cause of the problem is an important first step to determining the best course of action.

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