It is common knowledge that using and exercising the brain helps to prevent cognitive decline as we age. However, many people are unaware of how or why this is. A new 2016 research study conducted by Iowa State University suggests to Cincinnati home care agencies that constant and continued brain use prevents memory loss by encouraging the growth of certain neural proteins that block the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
This 2016 study examined 285 seniors over the course of two years to track the progression of Alzheimer’s-related memory loss. The researchers found that a certain protein, called NPTX2, is associated with higher memory levels and an overall larger brain volume. Test subjects who had low levels of the NPTX2 protein tended to have less memory capacity and an overall higher rate of brain atrophy. NPTX2 is strongly linked to better brain function in aging patients, which lead study researchers Auriel Willette and Ashley Swanson to try to determine what factors were associated with higher NPTX2 levels.
This study was particularly interesting because it determined just how important it is to have these protective, memory-building proteins. Other neural proteins, such as C3LP1, have been linked to an increase in harmful compounds that promote cognitive decline. However, even study subjects who had high amounts of these harmful proteins still maintained memory if they had the protective NPTX2 proteins. Most research studies on the topic of brain proteins and Alzheimer’s focused on how to remove the harmful proteins, but this study showed that increasing levels of beneficial brain proteins could be just as important.
Further examination by the researchers determined that certain patient behaviors tended to be linked with enough NPTX2 protein to prevent cognitive decline. Study participants who were active socially, highly educated, enjoyed staying mentally active, or worked at cognitively stimulating jobs all had higher NPTX2 levels. Therefore, it may be possible to for seniors to prevent some of the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by regularly exercising their brain with cognitive stimuli.
When it comes to staving off Alzheimer’s, there’s still a lot of groundwork for researchers to cover. In the meantime, you can help your loved one maintain cognitive health by hiring a flexible hourly, live-in, or respite caregiver in Cincinnati from Home Care Assistance. Our compassionate caregivers are highly trained in cognitive care that stimulates mental function and delays the onset of dementia symptoms. Learn why our services benefit seniors when you call 513.891.2273 today to set up a complimentary consultation.