New research suggests that evolution may protect seniors from mental decline. A University of California study points to the evolution of gene variants that block mental depreciation.
The study discovered that humans have evolved a CD33 gene variant, which protects the elderly from dementia. Findings from this were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Study co-leader Dr. Ajit Varki says, “Such genes likely evolved to preserve valuable and wise grandmothers and other elders, as well as to delay or prevent the emergence of dependent individuals who could divert resources and effort away from the care of the young.”
According to co-leader Pascal Gagneux, dementia causes a person to lose “important sources of wisdom, accumulated knowledge and culture,” but even a small amount of mental decline in elders can be harmful to social groups, because these seniors are prone to making flawed decisions.
While the study doesn’t prove how the protective genes are selected, Gagneux explains that the possibility is still worth speculating. “After all, inter-generational care of the young and information transfer is an important factor for the survival of younger kin in the group and across wider social networks or tribes,” he added.
By and large, baby boomers are living longer than their predecessors by staying active. Medical and social advancements have also contributed significantly to this. But there are drawbacks such as widespread Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia where the patient suffers irreversible cognitive decline. For people 85 and older, one in every three has Alzheimer’s. In response, geriatric medicine has seen many advances through people and collectives seeking to improve how the medical system treats seniors.
The Role Of Senior Communities
Senior communities for the most part, are swelling their facilities and participating more deeply in research on how active retirees can be best cared for. One of the pertinent matters of concern in this day is the use of social networks, and how good seniors are at it. Meaningful social interaction and engagement can be of huge benefit, and holds many rewards.
The major obstacle to seniors using technology to benefit is that they are often discouraged by the complexity of devices and software, which people in other age groups find almost natural. The more time it takes an aged adult to figure out Facetime, for instance, the less likely they would be to use it to connect with their grandkids.