The Effects of Aging

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Everyone, at some point or another, loses keys, misplaces a wallet, or forgets a name. It is a normal experience, but people who are middle-aged or older may be frightened about the onset of Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia. The American Psychological Association offers the assurance that Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, occurring in fewer than one in five people over the age of sixty-five and less than half of those over eighty-five (Memory and aging, 2009). The research of Reese and Cherry (2006) supports the assertion that, for most people in middle age, "forgetting" is not serious. Nevertheless, changes take place in the brain as one ages with respect to learning and memory. The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the normal changes people can expect in mid- to late-life as well as some of the problems one can experience outside the normal effects of aging. The human brain reaches its maximum size during one's early twenties, then very slowly starts to decline in volume (Memory and aging, 2009). Over time, one's heart muscle becomes less efficient and has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood through the body (Mayo Clinic Health Information, 2011). It means the brain gets less blood and less oxygen, resulting in a decline in the number of neurons. The brain decreases in volume and, between the ages of twenty and ninety, loses five to ten percent of its weight. So-called "neurofibriallary tangles," decayed portions of the

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