Did you know that your elderly family member’s brain is changing as she ages?
It’s true, and the changes may be a little more surprising than you expect. There are a lot of factors that play into how your elderly family member’s brain is impacted by her health and by aging. Talk to your senior’s doctor about what she can expect and how you and she can make those changes less impactful for her.
The Brain Itself Changes with Age
It’s easy to think of the brain as a static organ that doesn’t change much at all. But in reality, as your senior ages, some parts of her brain change size and even shape. Often what happens is that different areas of the brain shrink, especially parts of the brain connected to complicated mental processes. This might mean it’s more difficult for your elderly family member to learn new tasks and to perform well on complex tests.
Changes in Blood Flow Make a Difference
Another part of what happens is that blood flow is different for your elderly family member. This can happen because of other health issues, like high blood pressure, or because blood vessels in the brain are affected. That decrease in blood flow can cause the brain to get less of the oxygen that it needs in order to keep working well.
Neurons Become Less Capable
Nerve cells in the brain, called neurons, may not work as well as they used to in your senior’s brain. That means that they’re not transmitting information as well, either. Since the brain is all about transmitting information, that makes a difference in how your senior is able to perceive and process information.
Inflammation in the Body and the Brain Affect Both
You might have heard a lot about inflammation and how it affects your senior’s body, but it also affects her brain. Inflammation makes it more difficult for your elderly family member’s body to move well, and it does the same to her brain. Inflammation in the brain affects blood flow and the electronic flow of information through those nerve cells. Reducing inflammation can help some.
As your senior’s brain changes, she may experience bigger challenges than she expects. Having help from home care providers and following her doctor’s advice can help quite a bit. Putting together a plan is an important way to find the right answers for her.