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Elderly More Alert In The Morning, Study Finds

Posted in General Health 19 Aug, 2014

Common belief from around the world has it that we are more focused in the morning. A new study, though small, has confirmed this with their findings. In theory, this can only be true if we’ve had an early night and slept without major disturbances. You’re hardly going to be alert and focused after a hectic night out in town.

How was the study carried out?

Using functional MRI technology, a group of researchers from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research monitored brain activity of 16 older adults (aged 60-82) and 16 younger people (aged between 19 to 30). In short, they did a series of memory tests while the participants were subject to distraction.

The Results

Older adults were 10% more likely to be distracted between 1pm and 5pm than their younger counterparts. Maybe the older participants were too busy thinking about daytime TV schedules or whether there were enough tea bags to last the day.

The gap narrowed when the tests were carried out between 8.30am and 10.30am. According to a study recently issued in the journal Psychology and Aging, the older adults performed significantly better in this time slot. Or perhaps the younger lot had just recovered from a severe hangover? Let’s hope both parties had an early night before taking part in the study.

Memory loss?

As stated by researchers at the Baycrest for Geriatric Care in Toronto, the findings offer solid evidence that older adult’s brain function can vary during the day. In other words, they’re probably suffering from age-related memory loss. The study seems to suggest that older people need to capitalise on their cognitive abilities early in the morning, before memory loss kicks in and everything becomes a blur. So it’s probably better to listen to your grandad's war tales in the morning when he’ll be able to recall every little detail. Researchers go on to say that time really does matter when putting older adults to the test.

As most of us know, older adults tend to be more morning-type people. You only need to look at most parks in England to see the elderly power-walking at lightning speeds at the break of dawn.

Other possible reasons

When you’re at the age of retirement, I suppose there’s more time to organise exercise regimes and prepare healthier meals. Since older people are more likely to experience poor physical functioning, you don’t have much choice but to take up some form of exercise to alleviate aches and pains. Either that or you’ll drink yourself to sleep and get a full English the next morning before sitting by a lake and talking to ducks all afternoon.

Going by the evidence presented in this study, the elderly are more likely to offer wisdom-filled talks early in the morning when their brains are at their sharpest. So our advice: go and spend a morning at an old people’s home when you get the time. It will be well worth your time as well as theirs.

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