27 August 2013

Age–related changes in the psyche - an inevitability or a disease?

The frightening steps of old age

Nika Batchen, KM.RUThe Eastern parable calls the last years of human life "the years of the monkey" – a toothless old man makes a face on the threshold of the hut, and the children laugh at him.

Old age is a time of experience, mature wisdom, but, alas, also severe destruction of intelligence: dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. How to distinguish natural changes of character from a serious illness?

The burden of years livedThe human brain, like any other organ, has its own "service life".

In a newborn, the brain weighs only 300 grams, in an adult – about 1.5 kilograms. Until the age of 20, the ability to perceive, assimilate and store information is only growing. From 20 to 30 years, a "plateau" comes – the peak of a person's intellectual capabilities. After 30 years, alas, brain functions begin to gradually weaken – learning ability worsens, memory suffers, thinking, especially critical. Elderly people often have not the most pleasant personality traits – stinginess, grumpiness, rudeness, talkativeness, suspiciousness.

Brain activity is negatively affected by many factors – alcohol abuse, nicotine, psychoactive substances, work at harmful enterprises, with toxic substances and radiation, surgical anesthesia, head injuries, menopause. Intelligence can suffer from stroke, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative and oncological diseases. In psychiatry, there are several special "geriatric" diagnoses: senile (senile) psychosis, senile depression, senile dementia (marasmus). Specific degenerative diseases are also possible.

  • Alzheimer's disease is a progressive dementia. It begins with forgetfulness, a slight decrease in intelligence, disorientation in time and space. In the future, the patient loses speech, memory, and most skills. It usually affects people over 65 years of age.
  • Parkinson's disease or trembling paralysis primarily affects motor abilities. The patient begins to tremble first one hand, then both, posture and coordination of movements are disturbed. Then mental disorders are added. People over 55 suffer.
  • Peak's disease is a progressive atrophy of the cerebral cortex. First of all, the character suffers, the person becomes rude, aggressive, hypersexual, weak-willed, acquires bad habits, and then memory and orientation disorders occur. It usually affects people over 50 years of age.

However, everything is not fatal – according to American researchers, about 50% of older people keep their intelligence intact for up to 80 years or more.

Signs of agingWhat personality changes are characteristic of adulthood?

  1. Fatigue. An elderly person is able to process less information than a young one, he often needs rest, sleep.
  2. Lability. The mood of elderly people changes quickly, they become sentimental, sensitive, touchy, edifying.
  3. Conservatism. In adulthood, it is much more difficult to change habits, political views, place of residence, environment, down to the smallest details – cups, chairs, handkerchiefs.
  4. Irritability and anxiety. An elderly person often feels helpless, he has a lot of reasons for worry – the state of health, lack of communication, inability to solve everyday problems, a "burden" for the family.
  5. Forgetfulness. With age, short–term memory suffers first of all - a person does not remember where he put the keys, whether he took pills, whether he called relatives.
  6. Increased sociability. Elderly people often speak out loud their thoughts and memories, tend to share with the interlocutor the smallest details of life, while they can repeat and reproduce the same story several times.
  7. Change of interests. At the end of life, there is often a reassessment of values, an unbeliever can become a churchgoer, an illiterate can become an avid reader, an inveterate bachelor or widower can suddenly meet a friend of life.

Dangerous symptomsThe above-mentioned changes do not relate to the signs of diseases, they are quite natural in old age.

But there are also those that indicate an incipient illness. Let's list them.

  1. Sloppiness. Refusal of routine hygiene procedures, regular change of clothes, maintenance of order in housing.
  2. Suspicion. It begins to seem to a person that he is being chased, eavesdropped on, spied on, wanted to kill, poison, etc.
  3. Loss of orientation in space and time. The patient ceases to recognize relatives and friends, confuses current and long-standing events, communicates with deceased people, tries to go "home" from his own apartment.
  4. Hypersexuality. A woman thinks that everyone is in love with her, flirting, wanting to seduce or even rape. A man indulges in violent fantasies about sex with young girls or children, constantly jokes obscenely, conducts erotic conversations, and masturbates, including in public.
  5. The riot. For minor reasons or for no reason at all, a person throws a loud scandal, swears dirty, breaks furniture, climbs into a fight.
  6. Pathological hoarding. He or she clutters up the house with a huge amount of unnecessary things, garbage, empty packages and categorically refuses to part with them.
  7. Isolation. Refusal to make contact, talk, leave the house, get out of bed with the preservation of physical capabilities.
  8. Memory loss. A person forgets his name, age, address, does not remember what he ate and when, forgets to visit the toilet, fasten clothes, confuses the purpose of household items.
  9. Loss of coordination of movements. The patient cannot hold a spoon, comb his hair, take off his shirt, button up.
  10. Loss of criticality. An elderly person considers himself a "genius", "savior of mankind", "handsome", etc., ceases to think about the quality and consequences of his actions.

It is very important to track the onset of mental illness in time and contact specialists! Most senile diagnoses are incurable, but with the help of timely and well-chosen therapy, it is possible to delay the development of the disease, prolong the active life of an elderly person and prepare in advance for possible complications.

Years – it doesn't matter!In adulthood, the brain needs a full rest.

Elderly people should sleep at least 7.5 hours a day, rest during the day, take care that there is fresh, oxygenated air in the bedroom. In case of sleep disorders, meditation, auto-training and herbal remedies will be more useful than sedative medications.

Regular consultations with your doctor will help you choose medications that stimulate blood circulation and brain activity, smoothing out unpleasant age-related symptoms.

Nutrition should provide the brain with the necessary amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Healthy foods containing natural antioxidants, vitamins D, E, B12 are seafood, nuts, raisins, dried apricots, blueberries, cranberries, carrots. Dairy products containing probiotics (live lactic acid bacteria) should be included in the menu – kefir, yogurt. A small amount of natural red wine (50-100 grams per day) will protect blood vessels and the heart. But it is better not to abuse meat – animal fat contributes to atherosclerosis.

Feasible physical activity stimulates the body of an elderly person, increases the oxygen content in the blood. Daily exercise improves both memory and mood. And knitting, embroidery, designing, drawing, working with a computer keyboard make the brain "move" through the development of fine motor skills of fingers.

Loneliness is disastrous for the elderly – losing the incentive to an active life, a person very quickly plunges into depression and loses touch with reality. Therefore, the more things, occupations, duties and hobbies, close friends, children, grandchildren, students and pupils, the longer it takes to resist the inexorable time. Communication (including in the virtual world) protects against depression, pets help to maintain interest in life. And married life and regular intimate relationships slow down the aging of the brain thanks to endorphins and sex hormones.

Special attention should be paid to intellectual pursuits. According to American scientists, people with high intelligence live longer than their narrow-minded peers. Useful games that require logic and attention – chess, go, mahjong, dominoes. Memorizing poems, solving crosswords, music lessons, singing develops memory well. Meditation and prayer not only stimulate the brain, but also help to maintain mental balance.

It is impossible to overcome old age, but you have a chance to stay young in your soul until your old age!

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru27.08.2013

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