We all have our moments when the word stays paralyzed in our throat. We can see the face, hear the voice, but we struggle to name who it is we have in our mind. Most of us have dismissed such moments as senior moments. After all, we reason, they are part of aging. However, a new study that emerged from Chicago recently suggests otherwise. Senior moments might not be as innocuous as previously thought. There are indications that in some cases and by no means a minority,those senior moments we tend to laugh at like forgetting a word, name or recent conversation are really hallmarks and signs of Alzheimer?s disease.
After performing autopsies on what appeared to be the normal brains of over 130 older people who in life appeared to be mentally sound except for some moments of forgetfulness, Chicago scientists have found that one third of the participants had brains full of plaques, which are the cloggy lumps blocking arteries and scarred tissues that were all signs of Alzheimers disease.Their senior moments were pathological. Despite the fact that their brains showed marked deterioration similar to those who succumbed to Alzheimers, these participants had been able to lead functional normal lives; that is, they were able to take care of personal, household, social and daily living needs. Their ability to do so has prompted the inevitable question: why is that that some people are totally incapacitated and indisposed by brain deterioration while others (who had similar levels of deterioration in the brain) are able to function normally?
Dr. David Bennett, an Alzheimers researcher at Rush University Medical Center acknowledges that much can be gleaned from this discrepancy. His research suggests that certain factors seem to prevent us from being incapacitated in our daily lives despite the build up of plaques and protein in our brains. These factors include a) high levels of education and b) feelings of social connectedness.