The two factors to keeping a healthy mind into the senior years are cognitive stimulation and feeling a sense of worth. By doing physical exercise you can have a simultaneous connection between the mind and body, keeping both positively active. These ideas parlay into the the lives of honeybees and seniors in the same way, older honeybees staying younger while fulfilling the roles of younger honeybees. The correlation is there when thinking that all forms of life share a common biology and need for vitality.
What Can Bees Teach Us?
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 intervention 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.
Can Certain Duties Reduce 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.
What Happens When Bees are given Youthful Tasks?
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 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.
Humans and Honeybees
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)
The Victorian Assisted Living and Retirement Community
The Victorian is an assisted living and retirement community that makes living independently, while at the same time feeling safe and secure, a reality. We strive to provide the best quality of life for all residents including those suffering from loneliness and depression.
We offer a comprehensive activity program that includes both physical and social activities to encourage emotional well-being. Our staff is trained to assist those with depression. If you or a loved one are considering assisted living, contact The Victorian today to learn more about our services or tour our community.