13 Sep 2018


Aging is often related to a deterioration of cognitive performance and to multiple alterations in the brain, the deterioration associated with age would be the collection of consequences during a life. Forgetfulness is a common complaint among the older ones, when you start to talk about a movie you saw recently realizing you can’t remember the title or you are giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name or you find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what you went in there for.

As an individual age into late adulthood, psychological and cognitive changes can sometimes occur; a general decline in memory is very common, due to the decrease in speed of encoding, storage, and retrieval of information. This can however cause problems with short-term memory retention and with the ability to learn new information.

Meanwhile, not everyone are the same and it is increasing interesting in finding out that some older adults are able to maintain adequate cognitive abilities despite age, while others show clear cognitive decline with advancing age.

Now, education is consistently related to better cognitive performance and the relationship between education and age-associated cognitive change have been conflicting, higher educational attainment is related to higher levels of cognitive performance in late life, however, it remains unclear whether more education slows the rate of cognitive decline over time in late life because most longitudinal studies linking education and cognitive change in old age have found a direct relationship such that lower education levels are associated with a greater risk for poor cognitive performance.

Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they are not cause for concern. In recent decades it has been demonstrated that age do not affect cognitive functions in the same way nor do they evolve at the same rate throughout life.

As we grow older, yes, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we have always taken for granted but having an advanced knowledge of influence of educational attainment on aging can be very hopeful at that point since there are numerous opportunities to adapt, restrict, or help improve cognitive changes allowing older adults continue to function independently.

However, knowing that it takes longer to learn and recall information and are not anymore as quick as they used to be, of which we often mistake this slowing of their mental processes for true memory loss, giving themselves time will help bring the information back to mind. Higher education does not protect against cognitive decline or even result in a greater rate of decline, but education may improve cognitive function in a variety of ways – it may increase cultural competency, improving reading, math, and reasoning skills, as well as test-taking abilities. Education may actually improve brain function because enriched environments result in a greater number of synapses.

Sometimes, older adults have occasional lapses in memory that are a normal part of the aging process and not a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia and forgetting where they left things they use regularly, such as glasses or keys, names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by their son’s name, an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why they entered, becoming easily distracted or having trouble remembering what they have just read, or the details of a conversation.

Education is related to adult occupation and lifestyle, and higher education early in life may result in greater mental activity in occupation and leisure pursuits throughout life, individuals with higher education may enter old age with a greater synaptic density. Education may have a direct influence on cognitive function early in life through its role in promoting cognitive growth, and education may play an indirect role in maintaining cognitive function later in life through its relationships with adult socioeconomic status and social behavior.

It seems clear that at least in a healthy population, an enriched environment allows us to face the tasks of flexibility, updating, monitoring, or memory as we get old. In tasks involving executive functions, normal aging is associated with cognitive decline; however, all executive functions do not decline in the same way with advanced age.

Virtually no area of the brain is fully spared from the effects of aging, although certain brain systems seem to be particularly vulnerable to aging effects, which takes place earlier and in greater degree and brain structure and function are modified in a multidimensional way which could affect different aspects such as structural integrity, functional activity, and connectivity, as a result of continuous interactions between endogenous and exogenous factors. Research suggests that more highly educated older persons may capitalize on their increased crystallized abilities to supplement declining fluid abilities, therefore, if organic brain deficits eventually began to interfere with this compensation strategy, one would expect a faster rate of decline among educated older adults.



Article by Blessing Bassey

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