Life of the mindless: How is age treating that brain of yours?Nicholas Kronos -- Monday, March 13, 2017 -- 11:09:48 PM
TPWers are starting to get up there. Are the "not we" as still as sharp as we once thought we were?This thread is tagged:
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We were talking in the Cancer thread about aging mentally, especially after you hit 50.
Another thing I've noticed is I make way more typos than I used to. I don't always catch them, either, whereas I've been both a copy editor and a computer programmer before (both jobs that require an eye that catches tiny textual mistakes).
I've noticed a significant drop in intellectual productivity on this board. The quality of posts has gone down dramatically in the last twenty years. (Obviously the quantity of posts has also gone down, but that's less surprising and not necessarily an indication of intellectual decline, since many people lose interest in arguing as they get older.)
I often think I should have ended this board and turned it into a series of blogs, as I wanted to three years ago. But in fact, I don't think the quality of the conversation has dropped. I think a lot of the Trump debates were better than conversations you saw online. I just think the software, good as it is, is dead and it was time to move on.
I haven't noticed any drop in productivity, but my grandfather and grandmother on both sides were mentally active until their late 80s and 90s. On the other hand, the other grandfather got altzheimers, so there's that.
Apples to oranges. Most online discussion is moronic. Even worse, many of the best minds are now attracted to twitter, which is a terrible forum for holding good discussions.
I'm comparing the way Philip, Nick, you, me and other posters who are still around engaged in political discussion twenty years ago compared to now. Were the quality of our posts better for, say, the 2000 presidential race, when most of us were in our mid-thirties, compared to how we wrote about Trump's election?
I've noticed the same problem that kim kay mentioned in the other thread. I can't think of words but might remember what letter it starts with. When I'm alone it is crazy-making. If I'm having a conversation, I've taken to describing the word and the other person fills it in for me. Also, like Nick I notice I make more typos. And I forget how to spell words and have to look them up.
At work, being able to perform several tasks at once and being able to keep them in my head was something I was proud of. The last few years at my last job I had to write everything down - make lists of projects, immediately write down any thought before it was forgotten, and write all messages in detail because I'd forget something.
It's not a rapid decline - it's all happening very slowly - but I'm turning 60 this year and I know it's not going to get any better.
Pincher--actually, I do think so. We all learned from history, at least.
We've lived through more history, but I see no evidence most of us learned anything from it. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But I was talking more about the frequency of logical fallacies, common spelling and grammar mistakes, and other errors which can be objectively measured if we ever bothered to measure such things.
I've not quite hit 20 years posting yet, but the decline in the quality of political discussion is different for many other reasons than our aging. That may contribute a wee bit, but most political leaders are in their prime from late 40s to late 60s. Why should extra years have affected our capacity for politics more adversely?
Aging does cause me to post less because of not wanting to invest that much time and effort into a generally unrewarding activity when overall time is growing shorter.
This was particularly true about Trump versus Hillary when I had so little enthusiasm for either of them. Time spent writing only negative posts felt even more wasteful and bad for my disposition.
My father was diagnosed with pre-senile dementia when he was about 50, but I think his was a long-time mental dysfunction and detachment from reality, partly caused by alcoholism. Regardless, he lived into his mid 80s, so it certainly was not Alzheimer's.
I always felt as though I was taking pretty good care of myself until this last year. Now I've fallen into poor sleeping and eating habits, as well as not working my upper body enough. So I need to straighten that out or expect to pay the price.
The best thing to do is "retire" and start doing the shit you REALLY want to do. Obtaining/maintaining a sense of humor is mandatory.
As an "early" retiree, the only two things I really take seriously are: 1) fitness/health and 2) personal financial management. I'm still going to the gym daily doing cardio and lifting weights -- without fail. Financial security equals zero stress.
The only thing I no longer do because of age is run -- not interested in knee or hip joint replacement.
Brain in good shape -- I've still got the mind of a testosterone-soaked teenage boy.
I agree with this, but I think it's different from what I'm seeing here and from the topic of your thread.
If you've always found politics a fascinating subject, do you still need a rooting interest to think clearly about it? I've never felt that was true. If anything, a rooting interest often causes people to lose their minds.
I've recently taken up yoga (eighteen months ago) and crossfit (nine months ago). Best thing I've ever done for myself. I do at least one of these two forms of exercises daily.
To make time for them, I gave up golf and running (other than the short and irregular stints of running involved in crossfit). Golf just takes too much time for too little exercise. Running daily for three to five miles was no longer good for my body.
I hurt my back golfing and my doctor suggested yoga. That's how I initially made the switch and God am I glad I did it.
As mentioned above I have those missing words...a perfect word that starts with T but I can't recall it...I end up doing a lot of pausing to find a simple/easier to recall word. This drives me nuts.
I don't like the pausing...it feels like (ok now I have forgotten the word when the Netflix takes a long time to download the stuff)---THAT. edited to add: BUFFERING!
I, as of this year at 50, am writing down all the projects I have at work---keeping a running list as to where I am on each instead of managing it seamlessly in my head.
I also notice the physical bounce back after something strenuous is a PITA. I took a 6 hour drive last week and it took me about 36 hours to recover. I think to myself "Good god...what's it going to be like in 10, 20, 30 years?"
The things I am doing that are positive is (1) I walk my dog about an hour a day, (2) for both health and fulfillment I am volunteering at an animal shelter ---and one of the things we do is to walk dogs, (3) I try to do "word brain" or other mental challenges....but my interest in these come and go.
Pincher: I took a yoga class several years ago and thought it was great. Should definitely do that again.
Otherwise, I've never been much of a runner except in high school and when I was trying to get my son in shape. (He's in really good shape now, but he was like me and went through a kind of soft stage from about 10 to 13, then turned into a thin but fit and broad-chested 14-year-old.)
Don't doubt genes: I bet at every age he's been within half an inch of my height and three pounds of my weight. Same voice, hair, and eye color...and same glasses prescription.
So one thing I can do to get under his skin is sit around in my warm-up suit and say, "This is gonna be you in a few years."
My aerobic exercise was bike riding everywhere starting in middle school. I truly believe if you establish basic aerobic capacity then, it will be much easier to stay in shape the rest of your life. Or to get back into shape if you slip a little. Every day after school I would ride several miles to meet friends and play basketball until dark. Then I'd cycle home again.
Going back to the mental side of it, I'm sleepy a lot of the time (which isn't just age but bad sleeping habits). I also struggle more with doing mental work I don't want to do. I've always been somewhat of a procrastinator, but now it's even things like opening mail. I have Christmas cards I never bothered to open because...I'm not even sure why.
It would seem effortless, but I just don't want to read what's in them.
I used to have a great memory. I had excellent recall of conversations and details. People called on me to help them remember things. That's almost gone now. Unless I wrote it down as I heard it, I can't be sure to recall the details of a meeting or directions, or pretty much, anything I want to remember. I'm having rouble adjusting to this new reality for myself.
I too struggle with sleep. A good night's sleep is more precious to me than sex now.
What I've found is that diet and a sound eating routine is more important than exercise at my age. I rarely have a large meal after six o'clock, and if I do it's usually on the weekend. And I've needed to lower my sugar intake. One of my few bad habits is that I love rich foods. So no more chocolate cake at nine o'clock at night.
But I suspect that much of this is personal. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't take drugs of any sort. I refuse to take sleeping pills. So one of the few ways I have to experiment with what helps me to sleep is to work on either 1) my diet or 2) my exercise. What I found is that more strenuous exercise is not nearly as helpful for a good night's sleep as diet. But each person needs to experiment to see what works for them.
I think the opposite was true when I was younger.
If I worked hard, it didn't matter what I ate. I slept like a baby.
I'm older than all of you.
I used to walk 4 miles a day, went to the gym 3 days a week when the weather was too cold or icy. I remembered most of the phone numbers I ever needed, as well as friends' and relatives' addresses. Never used spell checker because I didn't need it for spelling; but even before my accident/ major concussion, I went through periods of forgetting words in my late 40s and 50s.
Stress makes those feelings of losing one's mental acuity worse. I have enough other things to stress about than my mind failing, so I try to soothe myself by thinking of my brain as a dry cleaner's garment retrieval system. The information is in there, absolutely stuffed in there with so much other stuff; so it may take a while for the info to arrive where I can pluck it off the rack.
I've had to reinvent myself three different ways in the last ten years for job purposes to take positions I had no clue about, all of which required more reading than I've probably ever had to do before. Considering that after that concussion, I didn't read more than two or three books in a decade, it's a challenge.
But that's what keeps me going. I'll never be able to retire. ever, but though Id like to work a few less hours a day, I'm so grateful I have a job to go to-- and not just because I have to work. It keeps my brain in better shape, I'm sure.
My biggest issue with "losing my mind" was not so much forgetting stuff, but being afraid I was "remembering" things that hadn't actually happened. It was worse when I was unemployed, and didn't have a schedule or obligation to anyone.
As for exercise, I ruefully DO recall thinking when I was out walking one fine winter day up a steep hill and loving every minute, "This is so great, I feel so wonderful; why does anyone ever stop exercising? I won't!"
Well, I have, unfortunately, learned why. After ongoing issues which involve too much pain to even walk, I have only sporadic attendance at the gym these days; and I feel sometimes like I'm getting paid back for my presumptuous ideas when I was younger.
I've been on ambien for several years now. I take it sparingly, more as sleep management than an aid. I dunno, my dad had trouble sleeping and I do, too. Both started around 40s. Most of the time I can get to sleep but then wake up several times, for 45 minutes or for the duration of the rest of the night if left to chance.
That said, I've had no dropoff at all that I can notice in my mental acuity (I'm 54). Physically, I'm in as good a shape as any other time in my life. I've always worked out heavily with weights 5 days a week and I'm back up to my old leg press weight of 568+. A few things have started to go -- back gets wiped out by squats, and my knees have difficulty with certain things -- but otherwise no dropoff in stamina either. I probably work out harder now than I ever did. And look more ripped, too. Partly this is due to having learned that my injuries are mostly a result of ancillary muscles not being strong enough and I've learned some things to strengthen those.
I don't do as much weight on certain things as I used to (30 lb dumbbell curls instead of 45) but that's mainly because I'm not as stupid as I used to be.
That said, a day out in the field -- either digging a few 1-meter deep holes or even just standing around -- wipes me out by the time I get home.
We'll not go into my psychological state though, which is an utter mess, but that cause has a face and a name.
Sparky, I remember when I had every phone number of every friend and client in my head. Today, even if I was in my 20s, I wouldn't remember those numbers just because no one ever dials numbers. Everything is speed dial.
Those of you doing yoga would be wise to continue. Nothing better for being able to maintain one's physical equilibrium and balance than yoga and stretching.
Same here, "heavily" being the operative word. I see "old" folks at the gym all the time who don't load the bar/machine with enough weight. They're going through the motions -- which is a time-waster and won't improve bone density. I still squat, bench, and dead-lift.
Same here -- no cheating on rep form, no reps to total muscle failure, etc. Not interested in rehabbing any more muscle/tendon injuries. That said, I no longer use weight belt, straps, wraps, compression shorts, etc. I lift heavy, but not power-lifter heavy like I did 10-15 years ago. I'm mid-fifties and have managed to stay in relatively great shape.
Gave up golf long ago. My (most expensive) hobbies are still scuba diving and target shooting (w/pistols). Both require substantial amounts of mental acuity and concentration.