Are SuperAgers Immune to Cognitive Decline?

By Richard Hemmi, 9:00 am on

“SuperAger” is a term used to describe an older adult whose memory and attention is comparable to people who are decades younger. For many years, researchers believed age-related cognitive decline was an inevitable part of growing older, but recent studies have revealed that every brain ages in a slightly different manner. Some of these SuperAgers are well into their 90s, and they continue to learn new skills, master hobbies, and make the most out of life. 

Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Cleveland West, OH, home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

Author and Researcher Emily Rogalski

The most recent study on SuperAgers was presented by Emily Rogalski at the 2017 Cognitive Aging Summit in Bethesda, Maryland. During her presentation, Rogalski revealed that some of her SuperAger subjects were scoring better on cognitive tests than people who were in their 40s and 50s. Several methods were used to test their cognitive abilities, such as remembering random names and listing off as many animals as possible in a short time. They also tested brain volume fluctuations, and SuperAgers lost just 1.06 percent annually while the other seniors lost an average of 2.24 percent. 

A Look at Brain Atrophy

As an individual grows older, organs and muscles will begin to shrink, including a key portion of the brain known as the cortex. Researchers used functional MRI to scan the brains of over a dozen SuperAgers and then compared those results with other seniors. While the brains of the SuperAgers did lose mass over time, the rate was much slower. In some cases, the brain scans of SuperAgers were nearly identical to test subjects as young as 25. 

SuperAgers and Dementia

Dementia is one of the most devastating conditions in the world, and the Alzheimer’s Association claims that nearly 35 percent of seniors die with a dementia-related disorder. One of the reasons SuperAgers are being studied so closely is because they have much lower rates of dementia. Whatever environmental and genetic factors are boosting their cognitive abilities could also be reducing their risk of dementia. If researchers can isolate those factors, they might be able to come up with more effective treatments for Alzheimer’s and other similar conditions. 

Seniors with Alzheimer’s require specialized care. However, you may not always be available to assist your loved one with daily activities. Caring for a senior loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming for family caregivers who have other responsibilities they need to focus on. For these families, the perfect solution is respite care. Cleveland West families rely on our caregivers whenever they need time to rest, work, run errands, and even go on vacation.

Keeping the Mind Sharp

Even if a senior is not classified as a SuperAger, he or she can still take steps to boost cognitive abilities such as learning new skills and hobbies. Whenever a senior is exposed to information, his or her brain is going to create new neural pathways and strengthen old pathways. Older adults also need to keep a close eye on their physical health. A wide variety of issues ranging from heart disease to high cholesterol can have a negative impact on brain health.

Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Cleveland West, Ohio, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place. To learn about our revolutionary senior care methods, call Home Care Assistance at (440) 455-4031 today.