Have you ever tried to recall something that was obvious or take a little too long to process information? You might call it a senior moment, but researchers have reached a preliminary conclusion that there might be more at work. As the New York Times summarized, maybe “It’s not that you’re slow. It’s that you know so much.”
The Turtle and the Hair
The study concluded that maybe a portion of our slowing brain performance as we age isn’t actually slowing. Instead, these scientists believe there is a good chance that some of the slowing down is actually people sifting through their knowledge banks which appears to slow their fluid performance. It’s a reassuring thought. Many of us would willingly trade speedy decision making for better decision making.
Things that Improve with Age
The theory isn’t outlandish. There are many instances of things that do improve with age such as utilizing more brain power, improving social skills, harnessing optimism and even more consistent brain performance and emotions. But, that doesn’t mean everything becomes easier. The hardest part of aging with grace is maintaining our youthful habits.
“It’s not as easy as it use to be”
Most of our developing life is about learning to live independently, but aging is more about embracing interdependency. We all need people. We need them for emotional support, for socialization such as playing games and for enjoying the holidays. As we age, we also need them for physical support. We’ve discussed novel ways to maintain memory as we age before and most of them require other people. When things aren’t as easy as they were before, it helps to have other people around for direction and encouragement.
If you are growing smarter, or you know someone else who is, then they should also know that there are people everywhere to help keep them smart. All you have to do is get out of the house to visit the nearest Denver Senior Center. If that is a challenge, get in touch with us regarding companionship services. Our caregivers provide the support you need to stay active and smart as you age. We engage our clients in activities they enjoy!
For a culture obsessed with youth, people sometimes forget that aging actually provides some benefits. Elderly individuals may not be able to do a 40 yard dash like when they were young, but there are many things they can do better that are far more important in day-to-day life.
Higher Brain Utilization
As we age, we use a larger portion of our brain even though we might assume that older people would slowly use less. Brain scans show that while young people often use only one side for a specific task, middle-aged and older adults are more likely to activate both hemispheres at once—a pattern known as bilateralization. Bilateralization and learned strategies for dealing with problems also creates the following benefits. Older people are better at making financial decisions and have…
More Consistent Brain Performance and Emotions
Taking a test once a day over a hundred days isn’t easy, but when young people do it, their scores tend to fluctuate more than in older individuals. The older adults’ greater consistency “is due to learned strategies to solve the task, a constantly high motivation level, as well as a balanced daily routine and stable mood.” This helps to explain why “Older employees’ productivity and reliability is higher than that of their younger colleagues.”
These strategies do more than help with productivity. Older adults also maintain more consistent emotions. A study published in 2009 concluded that older adults (between ages 61 and 81) had more clarity about their feelings, made better use of strategies to regulate their emotions, and had a higher degree of control over their emotional impulses. This also leads to…
Improved Social Skills
After years of dealing with people, mature adults learn who they are and how other people work. A study published in the Journal of Gerontology demonstrated that when older and younger adults were presented with hypothetical everyday problems, the older adults solve interpersonal dilemmas by choosing paths that often skirt direct conflict. If they get in an argument, its a calculated move.
Slowing down a little bit helps us get a better view of things, like rose colored glasses. Laura Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, asked a group of subjects ages 18 to 94 to record their emotional states at five randomly chosen times each day for a one-week period. She repeated the procedure with the same participants five years later, and then again five years after that. With the passage of time, the study subjects reported more positive well-being and greater emotional stability.
Neurons grow throughout our entire lives. Using our brain keeps it healthy. Our caregivers encourage brain health through a wide range of activities. Games like Scrabble help too. We can learn new words as we age which gives us an advantage in Scrabble and also gives us more ways to express ourselves.