Last week, I took a friend to lunch to celebrate her 73rd year. She’s as fit as anyone half her age and has kept her figure so that she wears clothes well and always looks stylish. Her one concern about getting older is Alzheimer’s, a disease that afflicted her father. She doesn’t mope about it but faces the challenge head on. She exercises regularly, eats well and avoids sugar. As for her social activities, I can’t keep up with her.
Everyone who lives a full life has to face the prospect of some form of dementia. Science has been studying the condition and their discoveries are surprising. For example, forgetting may not be the problem. Remembering is. Older brains get too full of “stuff.”
Creating memories relies in part on the destruction of old memories, and recent research finds that adults have high levels of a protein that prevents forgetting. (“Aging Brains,” by Ian Chant, Scientific American Mind, May/June 2013, pg. 8.)
Apparently, our brains are wired so that as we age, the synapses – connectors between neurons — don’t disengage as they should, making it difficult to form new memories. Holding on to old information makes it hard to store new information. That’s why older people learn more slowly than the rest of the population. (Ibid pg. 8.) This slow learning curve is one the young geeks of technology would do well to remember. Continually tinkering with applications could lose them a growing share of the consumer market. Technology may be speeding ahead but an aging brain isn’t.
(Courtesy of jewishdailyreport.wordpress.com)