When is old?

A good question. One that is asked by many of us as we age. How we like to keep pushing the number on. Some people like to think that old is always ten years more than they are. Just recently I couldn’t remember something and said to Rita, ‘I can’t remember, I must be getting old!” Without any hesitation her reply was “You are old!” So, there you go, now you know, I am old and I’m only 83!

Some people say you are old when you choose to be.  One might be old according to age, but I think the mindset plays a big part in how we see ourselves in relation to being old. It is encouraging when you see people who seem to have forgotten their age and carry-on doing things and going places which others, who are much younger, would not even think about attempting.

Have you noticed that as you get older you receive all these pointed advertisements which tell us that we should be using a certain ointment for this, a cream for something else, a lotion or potion for another abnormality – if we listened and used all that, we would know what our car feels like coming out of the shop after a lube job!

I find the subject of the brain fascinating, that’s why I own about ten books on the subject. I am currently reading The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, which is a sequel to his earlier book How the Brain Changes Itself in which he introduced the subject of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt to compensate for injury and how the brain can build new cells and neurons as needed to deal with new challenges.

It seems that somewhere down the road we have mistakenly been informed that as we get older our brains wear out, cells die, and we must accept that a deteriorating brain is the norm as we age. That is not necessarily so.

Mental exercise has a positive effect on the brain, just as physical exercise is good for the physical body. What’s more. The brain is always ready to face a new challenge like learning a foreign language, memorizing, or writing, regardless of our age. So, we can, and should, go on learning, growing, and developing our brains through reading, listening to podcasts, group discussion and participating in other brain stretching exercises.

We are never too old to start a project. I would never have dreamed that I could write five books after retiring, but I have. I am now challenging myself to memorize. So far this year I have managed to memorize three psalms and am now working on the fourth. This has also proved useful, for if Rita has a bad night, I can sit with her in the darkness and instead of reading, I can recite until the drone of my voice sends her back to sleep. So, I would encourage you, ignore getting old, undertake something that is challenging and uplifting. You’ll be glad you did, and it will bring you enjoyment.