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Degradation of the Brain with Age

by Ron Kurtus (revised 22 February 2012)

While a child learns various life skills as their brain develops, elderly people face a degradation of those skills due to the brain not functioning as well as before. This can be seen most distinctly in patients with Alzheimer's disease. These people are essentially living life in reverse.

Many people in their senior years can delay the mental degradation process by remaining active.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer



Comparing life skills

The following chart compares how the life skills of a child increase with age, while the same skills decrease in an Alzheimer's patient. These skills also decrease in the same manner as a person ages, although usually the person would die of some other disease before reaching the moderately severe stage of an Alzheimer's patient.


Child Development Approximate Age

Acquired abilities in child development
(or lost abilities due to Alzheimer's)

Stage after contracting Alzheimer's

12 or older

Hold a job

3 - Incipient

8-12

Handle simple finances

4 - Mild

5-7

Select proper clothing

5 - Moderate

5

Put on clothes unaided

6 - Moderately severe

4

Shower unaided

 

4

Toilet unaided

 

3-4 1/2

Control urine

 

2-3 

Control bowels

 

15 months

Speak 5-6 words

7 - Severe

1 year

Speak 1 word

 

1 year

Walk

 

6-10 months

Sit up

 

2-4 months

Smile

 

1-3 months 

Hold up head

 

Birth

 

Death

Source: Barry Reisberg, Silberstein Aging & Dementia Research Center, NYU

Alzheimer solutions

There really isn't much that can be done about the degradation of the brain and associated skills that come with old age if the person is inflicted with a disease such as Alzheimer's. Medical science is working on drugs and therapies that can delay this process.

Activity can delay process

Other people who are in their senior years can delay this process through maintaining their health and staying as physically and mentally active as possible.

The brain is like a muscle, and exercising it will help to maintain knowledge and skills. Physical activity allows a person to be able to perform the various tasks, as well as providing amble blood supply to the brain.

Summary

Elderly people face a degradation of various life skills due to the brain not functioning as well as before. This is especially true for Alzheimer's disease patients. They are essentially living life in reverse. Many people can delay the mental degradation process by remaining active.


Exercise and stay young


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Comprehensive Center on Brain Aging - New York University

General Health Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Aging

Top-rated books on Being Healthy


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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