The inability to remember details, such as the location of objects, begins in early midlife (the 40s) and may be the result of a change in what information the brain focuses on during memory formation and retrieval, rather than a decline in brain function, according to a study by McGill University researchers.
Senior author Natasha Rajah, Director of the Brain Imaging Centre at McGill University’s Douglas Institute and Associate Professor in McGill’s Department of Psychiatry, says that this decline in middle age may be a sign not of declining brain function, but rather of focusing on different aspects of information. “Rajah says that middle-aged and older adults might improve their recall abilities by learning to focus on external rather than internal information.”
A nursing home in the Bronx, New York, follows a “sexual expression policy” that allows residents to spend time together:
a number of older Americans … are having intimate relationships well into their 70s and 80s, helped in some cases by Viagra and more tolerant societal attitudes toward sex outside marriage. These aging lovers have challenged traditional notions of growing old and, in some cases, raised logistical and legal issues for their families, caretakers and the institutions they call home.
But the article also notes the other side of such a policy:
But intimacy in nursing homes also raises questions about whether some residents can consent to sex. Henry Rayhons, a former Iowa state legislator, was charged with sexual abuse in 2014 after being accused of having sex with his wife, who had severe Alzheimer’s disease and was in a nursing home. A jury found him not guilty.
Many of us in our later years think about writing down something about our lives to leave a legacy for future generations. Here’s an interesting story about a biographer, Alexander Masters, who has published the book A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip. In 2001 two Cambridge University professors found 148 diaries in a Dumpster (the Canadian term is skip). Not wanting their find to go to waste, they gave the diaries to Masters.
Becky Toyne examines Masters’ project here and concludes:
We don’t have journal writing like this any more. We remain obsessive chroniclers of our lives, only in public pictures rather than private text (and we edit out all the sad bits). By contrast, the diaries of “I” build to a 40-million word chronicle of a life containing very little excitement. The difference? “These books were alive,” says the Cambridge professor upon finding them strewn about a skip – and in Masters’s heartbreaking, heartwarming biography we learn that, however unremarkable or littered with disappointments our existence might turn out to be, so are we.
I offer this article in preparation for the upcoming political conventions.
And this is as political as I’ll get here, I promise.
© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown