As I’m always telling you, losing your memory is not an inevitable part of aging.
But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Because a new study of centenarians who have lived see their 100th birthday recently delivered scientific proof.
In fact, investigators found that most of this group managed to maintain their sharp brains, despite exposure to cognitive decline risk factors.
Here’s what you need to know…
Stable after a century
This study featured 330 subjects, all over 100 years of age, who completed a full battery of psychological and cognitive tests. Researchers factored in sex, age, Apolipoprotein E (APOE) status (a genetic marker for Alzheimer’s disease), physical health, and independence level.
They also collected blood and fecal samples to investigate factors that can influence health—such as genetics, neuropathology, blood markers, and the gut microbiome.
Then, at autopsy after death, the researchers looked at amyloid beta, neurofibrillary tangles, and levels of neuritic plaque. (They really went all out!)
Of course, testing these different avenues—including the gut—is important. It allows the researchers to explore all the ways in which the human body functions as a whole… not just as a bunch of separate parts.
At the start of the study, the median age of the subjects was 100.5. Seventy-five percent were women, and just over 50 percent lived independently. More than half had good vision and hearing; more than three-quarters could walk independently; and over one-third had completed postsecondary education.
Follow-up lasted over four years, in some cases. And in all cases, subjects showed no cognitive decline, beyond a “slight” loss of memory function.
Not surprisingly, subjects’ cognitive performance had ties to factors like greater independence (including in daily living) and higher educational level. But researchers also found that the typical hallmarks of Alzheimer’s—including genetic factors like APOE—did NOT play a role in cognitive decline.
Cracking the code
The authors concluded that once you make it to 100 years, it’s safe to say that your brain health is pretty much bulletproof. (Pretty cool, huh?)
It certainly checks out: If you think about all the birthdays that Al Roker announces on TV, the people who have reached this major milestone all seem to be in pretty good shape. Why automatically assume that the wheels are going to fly off, just because someone reached an extraordinarily old age?
If anything, I would assume just the opposite. Something got them to that age in the first place… and that something is going to continue helping them soar. We just don’t know exactly what that “something” is yet. (Though research shows us that genetics do play a significant role in longevity, at least.)
If we eventually manage to crack that code, however, just think about the endless possibilities. We may never have to worry about the pain of Alzheimer’s disease—and the burden its devastation brings—again.
As it stands, we still have a long way to go. There are still no memory drugs worth mentioning here. But I have to believe that a breakthrough is coming. (Interestingly enough, the mRNA technology used in two of the COVID vaccines may have a role in combatting this aspect of aging. And I truly hope it’s successful!)
In the meantime, I’m happy to report that there’s still a lot you can do to ward off cognitive decline, at any age. For additional ways to naturally protect and restore memory, strengthen focus, and fight dementia, I encourage you to check out my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan. To learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now.
“Age-Related Cognitive Decline Not Inevitable?” Medscape Medical News, 04/06/2021. (medscape.com/viewarticle/948770)