Multiple studies have confirmed that it is normal for the human brain to experience a mild decrease in size and volume as old age progresses, so mild loss of cerebral volume in an 84-year-old woman would be considered normal. Age impacts all parts of the human body, and the brain is no exception with both molecular and morphological changes being observed in otherwise healthy and normal human brains.
Like many other parts of the body, the human brain loses mass and volume as it ages. This happens even in normal brains, although aging brains are at risk for various ailments including dementia. One study that confirms the normal loss of brain volume also recommends that aging people take protective measures to protect not only brain health, but also cardiovascular health. These protective measures include regular exercise, little to no alcohol intake and a healthy diet. The aging brain can be further protected by increasing cognitive effort, which can be accomplished through educational efforts and other intellectual exercises.
The brain's frontal cortex is reported to be the primary site of age-related shrinkage. This part of the brain is believed to relate to short-term memory, planning, attention and motivation, some of which, particularly short-term memory, are impacted with age.