AUDIBEL PROMOTES HEARING HEALTH

According to hearing health providers, nearly one in five Americans age 12 years and older – 48 million people – experience hearing loss severe enough to hinder communication. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent age-related disability in adults age 75 years plus, following arthritis and hypertension. Only 5 percent of hearing loss in adults can be improved medically or surgically. The vast majority of Americans with hearing loss are treated with hearing aids.

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TAKING CARE OF YOUR AGING SKIN

As you age, you may notice wrinkles and brown spots on your skin. Aging makes skin more prone to dryness. Your skin also becomes thinner and loses fat, making it less plump and smooth. Cuts and bruises might take longer to heal. How skin ages will depend on several factors: your heredity, lifestyle, diet and other personal habits, such as smoking. Sunlight is another major cause of skin aging.

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A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP IS GOOD FOR SENIOR HEALTH

For some seniors,getting a good night’s sleep is an everyday challenge. Some sleep specialists recommend seniors sleep about seven and a half hours on average, while others say seniors need to get as much sleep as they always have to function at their best. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) convened experts from the fields of sleep research, anatomy and physiology as well as pediatrics, neurology and gerontology to reach a consensus from the broadest range of scientific disciplines.

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Scientifically designed plasticity-based options target specific brain machinery to improve cognitive functioning. Brain exercises should rely on novelty and complexity. WebMD and Lumosity provide some excellent options for exercising the brain. Neville and her colleagues have produced a film for non-scientists called Changing Brains. You can view it at http://changingbrains.uoregon.edu/ watch.html.


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REMEMBER BRAIN FITNESS AND WELL-BEING

environmental or neural processes. During such changes, the brain engages in synaptic pruning, deleting neural connections that are no longer necessary or useful and strengthening necessary ones. One of the most attractive features of plasticity-based fitness activities is they are drug free. They rely on retraining the brain through repetitious and challenging activities.


There is a growing understanding of and interest in brain plasticity. This effort is driving a revolution in brain health and science. One way smart technology and smart brain fitness has been realized is with musicians stricken with focal dystonia who are learning to play again. It has also been realized in people with mild cognitive impairment benefiting from brain exercises and brain games. Cancer patients whose ability to function has been impeded by the lasting cognitive effects of chemotherapy treatment have in some cases benefited from brain plasticity, as have stroke or traumatic brain injury patients. Brain exercises can facilitate neuroplasticity, thereby modifying the connections that allow the brain to re-wire itself. The brain’s anatomy ensures certain areas have functions that are predetermined by a person’s genetic make-up.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller

Recent advances in neuroscience have effectively put an end to the nature-or-nurture debate. Instead, the focus of discussion has switched to mechanisms and brain-based interventions. More specifically, the question has become: In what ways are neural circuits changed by experience? When is the brain most receptive to learning new things? What effect does neuroplasticity have on the development of neurocognition?


Perhaps no one is more intrigued by and committed to answering these questions than Dr. Helen Neville, director of the Brain Development Lab at the University of Oregon. In her address at the 25th American Psychological Society Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., Neville discussed how experiences and genetics interact to influence neurocognitive development and brain fitness.


Brain fitness occurs when individuals choose to focus on physical, cognitive, behavioral and relational skills together, rather than in isolation. Providing a more holistic approach to building challenge areas and enhancing strengths increases one’s confidence, comprehension and communication, processing, memory and relational skills involved in brain functioning.


Neuroplasticity involves a change in neural pathways and synapses that occurs due to certain factors, such as behavioral,