It’s a fact beyond doubt that age brings in tremendous changes in our life, affecting all of us without any exception. While physical changes happen in front of our eyes, there are changes happening in our cognitive abilities, which largely depend on the biological changes happening in our brain. Research findings reveal that while physical abilities do decrease as we age, the person gains more experience, maturity, practical knowledge of handling life situations, and acquires a wider knowledge base as the age goes up.
On nearing the sixties people start looking at you differently, naturally creating a feeling in you that you are getting old, and perpetuating your perception that you are likely to enter the last phase of your life “retired”. The surroundings also makes you feel that you are actually becoming good-for-nothing, and your age, health conditions, and old age predicaments in general, will be a talk of the town in your circles of friends and relatives, and often there will be reprimands as well demanding you to take more care, and you may be naturally needing more and more attention, but actually appear to be receiving less and less of it, sometimes have to face rejection, and may be even ultimate abandonment, in reality.
Research findings suggest that while there may be some decline on the episodic memory (memory of experiences associated with a particular time and space), the semantic memory (general knowledge) largely remains in tact. Procedural memory or the knowledge level of performing any skilled tasks, generally remains in tact. You may have seen some old people performing some specified tasks very accurately like cycling, yoga, walking, running etc. which of course are related with the physical ability of the person.
Unless the person suffers from some serious illness in the brain like Alzheimer’s disease or any other malfunctions of the brain, people will generally be able to retain the cognitive abilities in tact. There are increasing evidence to show that even the decline in memory that happens with age, can be substantially compensated by mental exercises, like meditation, activities that require thinking, reading, reasoning and memorization.
The weight of the brain does decrease when age advances, 5% by age 70, 10% by age 80, and 20% by the age 90. Also the frontal lobe of the brain, that plays a major role in maintaining our working memory, gets weakened over time. As we go up in age, maintaining overall ability will be possible by maintaining proper vegetarian diet, physical (exercise, walking, running etc.), and recreational activities. Education and life style of the person in general will play a vital role.
There are so many evidences to show that the intellectual abilities do appear to be in tact, until the person enters age 60, 70, 80, and beyond. Only tasks requiring physical activities may decline in speed drastically as we age. There may be slow reaction time, but this can be amply compensated by enhanced maturity level, experience and knowledge, which can be far superior to youngsters. It has been found that intelligence (an ability to think and reason) increases upto the early twenties, and then start declining, whereas crystallized intelligence or the accumulated knowledge increases over the life span.
It is said that creativity declines as we grow older. However, creativity is not the exclusive domain of the youth. There are famous artists, inventors, and composers, who have completed major works of art very late in their lives. Michelangelo continued his designing and painting until his death at the age of 83. In the recent past, MF Hussein continued to shine till very late in his life, and we can see many more examples which explains that creativity does not actually decline as we age.
Along with steps to maintain physical and mental abilities, maintaining your contributions to your surroundings in such a way that your surroundings will really miss you will go a long way. In fact old age is the time, when you can indulge in the activities you have always wanted to do, and be happy. It can really be the golden age, with a little extra care to remain active..
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