Use of government food benefits may slow cognitive aging in eligible seniors, study finds
Nutritional benefits may be an effective way to slow age-related cognitive decline, according to new research. (Alex Segre, Alamy)
Estimated duration: 4-5 minutes
WASHINGTON — Nutritional benefits may be an effective way to slow age-related cognitive decline, according to new research.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, found that eligible older adults who took part in a nutritional supplementation program experienced about two years less memory loss over ten years or more. The period was shorter than those who did not use the SNAP benefits.
Previous studies have examined the health benefits of SNAP programs in adults and children, but few have examined direct effects on older adults.
Cognitive aging is a broad method of characterizing age-related changes in thinking, learning, memory, planning, and problem-solving abilities.
Brain aging is a natural process that occurs for several reasons.
Hormones and proteins that stimulate nerve growth and repair and protect brain cells decrease over time. Blood flow to the brain also slows down, aging. Additionally, studies have shown that the hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps retrieve memories, can deteriorate with age.
Health problems such as high blood pressure can damage the small blood vessels in the brain areas that control memory and thinking.
Scientists also believe that lifestyle factors such as stress, exercise, and socioeconomic status can affect brain aging.
In general, people targeted by SNAP may already be at risk of brain aging due to their financial instability. To be eligible for the program he must meet the following three criteria. net income below the poverty line; assets of $2,750 or less for him over age 60 or persons with disabilities and $4,250 or less for households.
The new study included data from the Health and Retirement Study, a program supported by the National Institute on Aging. These scientists measured the memory function of 3,555 people aged 50 and over every few years from 1996 to 2016.
Improved nutritional intake, general food security, all associated with better cognitive function.
–Zeki Al Hazzouri, Columbia University
The average age of the participants was 66, and about 3,000 of them were eligible to receive SNAP benefits to cover food costs, but only 559 participated in the program.
Researchers measured people’s memory by completing tests of thinking and memory, such as memorizing lists of words. I was also asked about what I remember in my daily life.
Participants who used SNAP benefits had more chronic health conditions and lower incomes at the start of the study. However, their memory declined more slowly during the study period than those of those who did not take advantage of it.
“Our findings suggest that among SNAP eligible adults, non-users experienced 1.74 to 2.33 years more (excessive) cognitive aging over the 10-year period compared to users. I’m here.
The study doesn’t explain what causes these differences, but co-author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri has some ideas.
Zeki Al Hazzouri, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said: “If you have extra money to spend on food, you can spend that extra money on something else. Reducing your financial burden can also help your brain function.” And , it will affect the integrity of the brain.”
Nationwide, approximately 4.8 million people aged 60 and over are enrolled in the SNAP program, according to the National Council on Aging. Recent studies show that their numbers are declining.
Encouraging eligible seniors to participate in SNAP programs can have a significant impact on people as they age, said Zeki Al Hazzouri. It may even improve the cognitive health of tens of thousands of older people.
Studies have shown that part of the challenge may lie in the registration process and the paperwork required. It can be especially difficult for those who already have aging-related problems. There is also
“I hope that more people will feel that SNAP is the program they should use if they are qualified because of the obvious benefits they get from using it. The same could be true for programs such as WIC and unemployment benefits.