Change is naturally more difficult as we age, but it’s beneficial to our cognitive health to stimulate and encourage it.
Because our brains have evolved to resist change, accepting changes, even when we know they are for our own good, can be difficult. Nicole Spector offers some advice for teaching our brains to accept change:
- Do cognitive rehabilitation exercises—the gym for the brain
- Learn a new language or a task that is out of your comfort zone
Learning something new, something that we never thought we’d be able to do, can give us the confidence to undertake other new experiences:
Over the years, we learn to succeed by viewing our previous failures and successes in a certain light and as we get older we lose sight of that. When you try a new thing it makes you more confident to try to do more new things.
Playing a shabby acting coach in his first ongoing TV role since the 1970s, the “Wall Street” star confronts the realities of growing older, onscreen and in his own life.
Dave Itzhoff profiles actor Michael Douglas, who, at age 74, portrays an aging acting coach in the Netflix series The Kiminsky Method.
On “The Kominsky Method,” [Chuck] Lorre [the show’s creator] said he wanted a show … that would let him address topics about confronting aging and mortality that are usually shunned on such programs.
Douglas stars along with Alan Arkin, whose character’s wife dies in the show’s first episode, “forcing Kominsky [played by Douglas] to realize that his own time on earth, however degrading, is also limited.”
Kim Tingley reports for The New York Times Magazine on Latitude Margaritaville, a community for residents 55 and over, being built along a highway in Daytona Beach, Florida. As the name suggests, the community is based on music by Jimmy Buffett.
The real frontier here, though, was not the surrounding wilderness but a hitherto uncolonized stretch of time: the multiple decades that more and more Americans can expect to live in better and better health after they retire. What will these pioneers do? Who will they become? And how will that, in turn, alter the course of human history?
Tingley describes Latitude Margaritaville as one of many experiments the senior housing industry is undertaking. These experiments are driven by statistics:
The Census Bureau projects that in 2034, for the first time ever, people 65 and older will outnumber those under 18. Americans are living longer and having fewer children, and fewer immigrants are showing up.
Yet communities specifically designed for seniors face a dilemma: How do they conceal the facts of living that help residents adapt to the needs of aging? At what age does the notion of life as a beach party become obsolete? These are questions that the growing industry of senior housing seeks to find answers for.
Molly Fosco profiles David Sinclair:
he’s a professor of genetics at Harvard and founder of the Sinclair Lab, where he and his team study the processes that cause age-related diseases. Sinclair aims to develop a drug that will interrupt these processes and, ultimately, find the Holy Grail: a way to reverse aging. If, that is, he can get government approval — and at the moment that’s looking doubtful.
Age-related diseases include high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and dementia. According to Fosco, Sinclair believes that doctors who treat these diseases are going about it all wrong because they do not treat aging itself as a disease:
“Your doctor should be able to prescribe a drug that would slow or reverse aging,” he [Sinclair] says, “the same way he or she would prescribe a drug for high cholesterol.”
Sinclair doesn’t want to simply increase the human lifespan; he wants to increase the number of years people live healthy, mobile, and disease-free lives. His approach puts him outside the mainstream of scientific research into aging.
Alexandra S. Levine reports on the recent California wildfire:
The hardest-hit community, Paradise, Calif., was a popular place to retire, with more than one-quarter of its residents 65 or older, according to census figures. Many of them have now lost everything late in life and must start over from zero, often with little support and with major health challenges.
The fire was devastating to the region’s high population of older adults:
Many of the thousands of structures in Paradise and surrounding parts of Butte County that were lost in the fire were nursing homes, assisted living facilities, other geriatric care centers or mobile home parks catering to retirees. Roughly 2,300 residents of the fire zone had relied on in-home health aides, according to Shelby Boston, the county director of employment and social services.
© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown