Disclaimer: Information only. Not medical advice. Check with your doctor for more on this.
Like all people leaving their 20s, the monitoring of their health — in all aspects — is paramount. And it will continue to be such for life, not to mention more so. WebMD said (in a quiz on the site) that memory in different forms declines in the late 20s! This is a wakeup call for me, already 29 years old.
This evening, in my beloved Britannica set, I decided to investigate aging and its impact on memory. While the set is quite dated (1981) and research has increased since then, the article said, overall, the primary aspects affected are short-term memory and response timing. On the other hand, cognitive decline is trivial concerning skills, facts, and vocabulary.
In other words, the aged actually learn just as well as younger adults. Here’s the catch. They tend to learn the material more slowly.
This provides some good news here, in case a senior citizen wants to learn something. But a younger person should teach it slowly, so the elder will retain it well. In other words, go easy on them! Don’t pressure them too much.
Also, while there are exceptions, the rule of thumb is that people in their, say, 30s, tend to make major contributions in science, math, etc. more often that 60-somethings. This rule of thumb is reverse for religious, political, and administrative personalities, wherein experience is the principal factor.
And, despite their tendency to “keep to themselves,” due primarily to past experience, older adults are happiest when accompanied by those younger than them, and would rather stay in their communities rather than in institutions for seniors (e.g. nursing homes and assisted living facilities). Good income and health contribute as well.
Of course, there’s Alzheimer’s and similar dementia disorders, but they are beyond the scope of this post. This is focused chiefly on the brain power overall aged population.
Keep in mind that as one reaches the end, while learning is lifelong by nature, it becomes less and less important, namely concerning applications of such. In another post sometime, I would like to discuss learning theories. But this will suffice for now.
But again, like many others, age is what it is — a number.
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1981, v. 1 (Macropedia)
One thought on “An Encouraging Word for Aging Minds”
Thanks for sharing, Frank! The research has absolutely expanded and the concept of Neuroplasticity, or life-long learning, is real and true for all of us.