5 Ways Cognitive Function Changes With Aging

Fun fact: By the year 2050, an estimated 88.5 million Americans will be over the age of 65. Because the senior population is expected to more than double by 2050, it’s important to know how aging affects the cognitive function of you or your loved ones.

In addition to aging, social events (such as the loss of a loved one) can trigger depression, which may also affect cognitive function.

A recent study published in the journal Experimental Neurobiology found that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatments can improve cognitive function. 

If you’re curious about TMS treatments, we at TMS Treatment Center in Lexington, Kentucky, can help you get the answers you need. Led by board-certified psychiatrist Jacob Bishop, MD, and board-certified neuropsychologist Peter Gager, PhD, our team is proud to offer TMS treatments to improve a variety of conditions.

How cognitive function changes

In the meantime, we put together this list of five ways cognitive function changes with aging. 

Your vocabulary may increase

Has your love for a crossword puzzle increased with age? If so, there’s a good reason. Your vocabulary continues to increase as you age. In fact, your vocabulary skill set doesn’t peak until after retirement age, according to the experts at Harvard Health.

Declarative memory declines

There are many types of memory, including procedural and declarative memory. Declarative memory declines with age. This type of memory includes:

Procedural memories are memories of how to do something, like riding a bike. Procedural memories, for the most part, stay intact. 

Working memory declines

While declarative memory works by recalling stored information, working memory processes new information, such as where you parked your car at the grocery store.

Your brain produces fewer chemicals

According to the Dana Foundation, aging brains may produce fewer chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. This has a twofold effect on the brain: It can reduce thinking skills and increase the risk of depression. 

Reduced parallel processing

Parallel processing is what enables you to multitask and hold many pieces of information at the forefront of your mind at the same time, but as you age, the ability to think slows down, and so does the ability to perform parallel processing.

When to worry about cognitive changes

Cognitive changes are normal, but if the occasional “senior moment” is becoming a daily occurrence, it may be time to talk to a professional. Regular exercise and a diet rich in brain-healthy foods (like those with omega-3 fatty acids) can support healthy cognitive function.

We encourage you to contact us if your cognitive function is affected by a mental health condition, or vice versa.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your treatment options, schedule an appointment at our Lexington, Kentucky, clinic by calling 859-533-9190. Or you can request an appointment through our easy-to-use online booking system.

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