Senior Citizen's Guide to Cleveland 2013 Vol. 1 - page 29

SeniorCitizensGuide.com/cleveland
27
Article
Health
As they approach their 80th birthdays, David and
Christine of West Palm Beach, Florida, are enjoying life.
Dave, a retired physician, serves as treasurer for his
condominium association; Christine loves puzzles. Both
are socially active and well-read, and they regularly hit
the links. “We’re fortunate to be healthy enough to pur-
sue our interests,” says Christine. “Neither of us believes
that you lose your mental ability as you get older, but
from lack of use it can go into hibernation.”
New research supports this idea. “Certain kinds of
thinking can actually improve with age,” says reporter
Patricia Cohen of The New York Times, author of In Our
Prime: The Invention of Middle Age (Scribner, 2012).
Until the 21st century the standard view was that men-
tal faculties started to ebb after midlife. Now excit-
ing studies reveal that Americans over 65 are not only
physically healthier but also staying mentally nimble.
“One of the most surprising findings in the past de-
cade has been how plastic—or flexible—the brain is,”
says Cohen. The assumption has always been that brain
cells die and don’t regenerate. “Now we know neural
pathways are continually being created. What’s more,
myelin—the fatty sheath around the axons and neu-
rons—can actually develop in middle age. So it’s never
too late to do things to improve your brain.”
Other Encouraging Findings:
• The passage of time endows your brain with cer-
tain advantages. Experience imprints itself into
your brain cells, carving new neural pathways that
can be called up as needed. This gives many older
Thinking That Improves
With Age
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