Life is sweet at home

Let’s Celebrate Aging: How the Brain Gets Smarter

We’re getting better with age!

A girlfriend recently told me how depressed she was about turning 60. She viewed this milestone as the “kiss of death.” Later that week at her annual physical, the doctor asked this attractive, active woman her age. Her response was a weak, whiny “I’m 60.” Instead of acknowledging the “poor me” attitude, the doctor smiled and pumped the 60-year-old’s hand, “Congratulations!”

Since this “attitude adjustment” my friend has been proud of her age and realizes that her life is really very, very good. Nowadays, every time we meet for a walk, practice yoga or go shopping, we compare notes about how we need to celebrate these major milestones. Sure, we may not recall names as fast as in our 30’s, but we’ve got lots going for us and we are discovering new ways to enjoy our slightly more “mature” years.

Here are some of the advantages of aging:

• Studies show people get smarter at a number of tasks (vocabulary, objects in space and reasoning).

• Older people are often very creative, focused and their years of experience help them remain calm and collected on the job

• All this experience means older people are often better with money and finances. They have learned from the mistakes of their youth and have learned a lot about how to manage money.

• They are smarter in terms of life skills, too. Older people have what we call “perspective” and can see the big picture better. Most things are just not worth worrying about.

• As a result, older folks are more relaxed and studies show that they are actually happier than at a younger age. They are at peace and accept who they are and where they have been. In general, the mature crowd values people and relationships more than “things.”

• Older individuals are good with people. They know how to listen and they have tons of experience upon which to base their advice. When they can share insights in a non-judgmental way, the younger generation just might listen.

• When you are older, you earn the privilege of sharing stories. It is fun to describe what it was like in the “old days” and give children and grandchildren a sense of history and “where they came from.”

Yes, getting older does affect the “think fast” part of the brain; but, overall, getting older offers many rewards. We need to celebrate how aging refines important strengths. We get to slow down a little and focus our impressive brain power on enjoying life and the wonderful people around us.