I surprised myself this morning and not pleasantly. After spending weeks trying to renew my mother’s handicapped parking placard with the Department of Motor Vehicles, I found the one I’d obtained earlier in my glove compartment. Now I had two placards with different numbers. What was my forgetfulness telling me?
As we grow old, there’s no denying our brains slow down. Recently, I took a test in a magazine to see how my answers might differ from those of a younger person’s. The first question was, “What is the difference between a tie and a cracker?”
I admit, I had to stop and think. What I saw first were the similarities between the two. Both objects had dimension; they were light weight; they had practical functions; they were manufactured items rather than natural, etc., etc, etc.
Yes, I confess it. My brain went off on a tangent while a younger person, with less clutter in their memory bank, might have seen immediately that a cracker is food and a tie is clothing. But did my ruminations mean I was growing senile? Apparently not.
A German team has developed a computer model to support the notion that as people get older, their brains don’t get weaker, they get bogged down with information. (Also see Blog 5/2/13) Like a huge filing cabinet, older brains have lots of material to sort through to find the pertinent material. According to the German team, this sluggishness should be no cause for alarm. Put simply, the brains of older folks are too complex to fall for simple ideas. “…having a better understanding of language [they are] naturally resistant to nonsensical pairings.” (“Health & Science,” The Week, 2/14/14 pg. 19)
What a relief for those of us with a surplus of grey hair. We aren’t getting stupid. We’re suffering from a surfeit of knowledge. Now, that’s something to cheer about. I’d go out for an ice cream cone to celebrate if I could remember where I left my car keys.
(First published 4/2/14)