It’s an unfortunate fact of life — as we age, we tend to become more forgetful.
Aging brains struggle especially with working memory. Called the workbench of the mind, working memory allows us to store useful bits of information for a few seconds and use that information across different brain areas to help solve problems, plan or make decisions.
Researchers are trying to understand why this ability fades as we age and whether we can slow, or reverse, that decline.
One leading hypothesis contends that working memory works by far-flung brain areas firing synchronously. When two areas are on the same brain wavelength, communication is tight, and working memory functions seamlessly.
For up to one in five Americans over age 65, getting older brings memory and thinking problems- along with the embarrassment of not being as “sharp” as they once were, and the worry that it will get much worse.
They might just call it “getting older.” But officially, when memory or cognitive problems don’t interfere significantly with daily living, doctors call them mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.
What can be done to prevent or slow MCI? And how much should seniors fear that their thinking or memory problems will get much worse? A pair of doctors from the University of Michigan Medical School and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System have put together a definitive look at the evidence, based on a thorough review of recent studies about MCI.
The risk of developing cognitive impairment, especially learning and memory problems, is significantly greater for people with poor cardiovascular health than people with intermediate or ideal cardiovascular health, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Cardiovascular health plays a critical role in brain health, with several cardiovascular risk factors also playing a role in higher risk for cognitive decline.