The keys to a healthy mind are cognitive stimulation, engagement, and a sense of worth. Physical exercise and stimulation have a simultaneous connection to the mind and body. This has a direct correlation to older honeybees staying younger while fulfilling the roles of younger honeybees. The correlation is there because all forms of life share a common biology and need for vitality.
Learning from Honeybees
A lot can be learned from honeybees when it comes to treating age-related dementia. Older honeybees that were given the task of young honeybees had the aging of their brains effectively reversed. Instead of only treating dementia with drugs we could look at social interventions as well. Finding effective social treatment methods should be at the forefront of our research.
Honeybees may seem like they don’t have much in common with humans, but their memory processes are similar to those in humans. Honeybees have an amazing capacity to learn and remember. They can count up to four, and orientate themselves by learning patterns and landmarks. They are also social insects that interact, teach and learn, making them successful foragers. Bees remember how to find a food source, how good the source was, and how to return to the hive.
Tasks for Reducing Dementia
The tasks of humans and bees have a similar effect on the aging process. While studying bees, researchers at Arizona State University found that bees who stay in the nest and take care of the baby bees (larvae) remained mentally competent. After the period of nursing was over the bees who left the nest to gather food began aging rapidly. Two weeks into the foraging the bees had worn wings, hairless bodies, and loss of brain function.
There is similarities in humans where the aging process begins to speed up. Often seen in marriages of many years, when one of the spouses pass the living one declines at an accelerated rate. Due to a lack of companionship or need to care for another person, causing social interaction to decline and depression to take place. All of these factors have a major effect on increasing the aging process.
Healthy living is about social engagement, physical activity, and happiness. All of this can be accomplished by a strong social life, gratifying career, or a multitude of other things that gives us purpose keeping us younger longer.
Honeybees Come Back to the Nest
Young honeybees were removed from the nest to see if older honeybees would take their place. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what happened, so the older honeybees came back into the nest to care for the baby bees. While in the nest the older honeybees regained their ability to learn new things. The bees were discovered to have the Prx6 protein in the brain and it had changed while caring for the babies. Also, this protein is found in humans and known the to protect against dementia.
Seniors Staying Young
Seniors should take part in social interventions, changing how they deal with their surroundings helping to keep their brains younger. The proteins being researched in people are the same in bees, in which the proteins could spontaneously respond to specific social experiences.
Relating the memory research to humans, specifically the physical changes in the brain, like in our neural connections, that help form long-term memories could help understand conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia in which memory breaks down.
While assuming a younger bee’s role keeps the honeybee more fit, there are ways to keep seniors more fit, including the following:
- Staying active — Going for walks, taking music or swimming lessons
- Staying social — Being a member of a social organization, staying engaged with friends or family or volunteering for a local school or cause
- Maintain cognitive stimulation — Read, play games (card, computer, iPad, smart phone etc)
Entrust of DeSoto: A Resident-centric Memory Care Community in Dallas, Texas
Entrust of DeSoto is a memory care community that puts resident well-being at the center of everything we do. We know that each person is unique. That’s why we offer a wide range of services and lifestyle options to nourish the body and create community.
We understand the importance of home cooked meals and nutrition for seniors and this attitude is reflected in our dining experience. If you or a loved one live near Dallas, Texas and need assisted living, contact Entrust of DeSoto today to learn about our 24-hour care and find out how we can help.