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Why aging isn't all doom and gloom - Aging on Nautilus

We get wiser with age

Studies have shown that older people are better able to control their emotions; they know themselves better, make better decisions that require experience, and have more compassion and empathy toward other people.

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Why aging isn't all doom and gloom - Aging on Nautilus

Why aging isn't all doom and gloom - Aging on Nautilus

http://aging.nautil.us/feature/260/yes-you-get-wiser-with-age

aging.nautil.us

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Key Ideas

Three domains of aging

  • Physical: Most people think of aging only as physical aging.
  • Cognitive: After middle age, around 60, memory and other abilities decline.
  • Psychosocial: It includes things like well-being, happiness, quality of life, control of emotions, socialization.

Successful aging refers to better well-being and greater happiness, even thriving and flourishing.

Aging and stress

In older age, there is more stress caused by problems like physical illness, the deaths of dear ones, financial problems, retirement, and loss of a sense of purpose.

What matters is how you respond to that stress. With age, although there is a decline in physical health and cognitive function, psychosocial functioning progressively improves. Older people handle stress much better than someone in their 20s and 30s.

We get wiser with age

Studies have shown that older people are better able to control their emotions; they know themselves better, make better decisions that require experience, and have more compassion and empathy toward other people.

Strategies for successful aging

There are strategies for successful physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aging that will make you happier. They include:

  • Calorie restriction
  • Physical activity
  • Keeping your brain active by doing something that is reasonably challenging.
  • Socializing
  • Attitude and behavior
  • Optimism
  • Compassion
  • Volunteering activities

Focus on prevention

Keeping a healthy diet, doing regular physical activity, keeping your brain active, and social engagement all need to happen from early childhood. If we focus on these things from early on, the prevalence of many diseases will go down.

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Getting wiser with age

Some things do get better with age: the ability to make decisions, control emotions, and have compassion for others.

The challenge to aging well is to be an optimist, resilient and pro...

3 Components of Aging
  • Physical;
  • Cognitive - when memory and other abilities decline;
  • Psycho-social:  includes things like well-being, happiness, quality of life, control of emotions, socialization.

Successful aging mainly refers to better well-being, greater happiness, and not just arriving at old age, but thriving and even flourishing.

Strategies for successful aging
  • Calorie restriction
  • Physical activity
  • Keeping your brain active: do something that is somewhat challenging. Not too stressful, but somewhat challenging. 
  • An appropriate degree of socializing
  • Attitude and behavior: resilience, optimism, compassion, doing things for others, volunteering activities.
  • Other strategies like meditation for reducing stress.  

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Learning Slows Down with Age
Learning Slows Down with Age

Most aspects of mental processing slow down as we age. While we continue to accumulate knowledge of the world at a slower rate, we gain more experience that increases our wisdom.

Our minds tend to grow worse

Researchers disagree in their hypotheses about how our minds tend to get worse with age. What can be observed is the following:

  • Older individuals do struggle more with Stroop tasks, where an automatic habit needs to be overridden by instructions.
  • Older individuals have a harder time with multitasking.
  • Older people find it difficult to bind information that occurs in a combined context. It impacts their ability to remember life events.

However, older people seem to be better at emotional regulation.

Cognitive Reserve

Some people seem to age mostly with minds intact and others notice dramatic slowdowns. The brain appears to have a lot of redundancy built-in - known as cognitive reserve.

Education seems to have a protective effect on aging, possibly because education contributes to cognitive reserve.

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Loneliness Is A Kind Of Pain
  • Loneliness affects 19 to 43 per cent of adults who are now past 60 years of age.
  • Just as physical pain is a warning from the body telling us to take appropriate ac...
Loneliness And Mental Health

Studies show that older adults who are lonely see a decline in their thinking abilities, which is rapid if paired with other factors like physical inactivity, anxiety, poor sleep and high blood pressure.

Prolonged social isolation is a kind of mental stress leading to various mental and physical health issues like faster ageing, dementia and cognitive decline. It has also been linked to the factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease, like a build-up of certain toxic proteins in the brain.

Social Activities As A Form Of Self-Care
  • The negative impact of prolonged loneliness can be curbed with maintaining high-quality relationships and social activity.
  • How we manage our feelings and relationships is important for our brain’s health.
  • Self-care is an essential component of our mental and physical health, and we have to focus our attention towards better sleep and exercise routines, healthy eating and engaging in enjoyable activities.
Lifestyle choices influence how you age

Adopting specific lifestyle behaviors can have a tangible effect on how well you age: activities like learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, taking part in aerobic exercise, and dev...

Aging process and cognitive decline

As time passes, there is a build-up of toxins in the brain that correlate to the aging process of cognitive decline. Although this is a natural part of growing older, many factors can exacerbate it. Stress, neurotoxins such as alcohol and lack of (quality and quantity) sleep can speed up the process.

Neuroplasticity

The key to resilient aging is improving neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons. 

This activity occurs in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that lays down memories. And we respond to and store new experiences every day, and cement them during sleep. The more we can experience new activities, people, places, and emotions, the more likely we are to encourage neurogenesis.

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Exercise Benefits The Brain

Any kind of exercise, be it aerobic, walking or Yoga, changes the brain's composition, structure and the way it operates. The changes that happen to the brain:

  • Brain wa...
Brain Waves increasing

The brain's electric impulses change, and the Beta waves increase during and after exercise, putting it in a better, more alert state.

More Sensitive To The World

Exercise makes our senses sharper and clearer, and we are more perceptive and have better sensitivity to our surroundings.

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Buying New Books

Lifelong learners are often found browsing for books on Amazon, visiting their local library or book stores. They also ask people for book suggestions, especially ...

Asking Questions During Class

Deep engagement with learning makes the experience more valuable and easier to remember.

You can take notes about the material to ask questions later or even send questions by email or ask for an appointment.

Learning To Earn

Continuing education is vital to maintain your career growth. Lifelong learners view their education as a portfolio with several components.

If you want to earn more, consider learning sales and marketing skills. Those skills are useful even for non-sales jobs.

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“Aging well is the supreme expression of wisdom.”
Michael Gelb
Accept the complexity

Living longer creates more complexity in our relationships. What should we be doing for the next few decades?

Accept the complexity of an increased life span as a wonderful challenge.

Develop a positive attitude

Even though our bodies deteriorate and impede our abilities with age, our brains continue to function well. The brain continues to form new connections and create new cells. It is our self-imposed limits that hold us back, not the capacity of our brain.

A study revealed that a positive attitude had a greater impact on survival. Positive people outlived negative people by an average of seven and a half years.

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Excercise against the decline of age

As we age, 2 forms of exercise are the most important to focus on: 

  • aerobic exercise, or cardio, which gets your heart pumping and sweat flowing;
  • strength training...
Best exercise to slow aging
  • Jogging;
  • Walking;
  • Tai chi;
  • Swimming;
  • Walking;
  • Cycling;
  • Squats and planks.
Tai Chi, a good practice against aging

The Chinese martial art combines a series of flowing movements, performed slowly and gently, with a high degree of focus and attention paid to breathing deeply.

It is particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older.

The Caffeinated and the Un-caffeinated
The Caffeinated and the Un-caffeinated

Morning commuters seem to fall into one of two categories:

  • the Caffeinated: ready to take on the day—they're reading their morning papers, or checking email, or reading for plea...
Grown Ups and Coffee

By 1988 only 50 percent of the adult American population drank coffee. In 1962, average coffee consumption was 3.12 cups per day; by 1991 had dropped to 1.75 cups per day.

At the onset of the 1980s, coffee growers and retailers realized that the current 20-29-year-old generation had little interest in coffee, which they associated with their parents and grandparents.

Coffee And the "Me" Generation

For the coffee industry to survive, it needed a new marketing strategy. The consumer was changing and coffee-players needed to pay attention.

Crucial questions the 'me' generation will ask: "What's in it for me? Is the product 'me'? Is it consistent with my lifestyle? Do I like how it tastes? What will it cost me? Is it convenient to prepare?"

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Fluid vs. Crystallized intelligence

In the intelligence field, there is a distinction between:

  •  "fluid" intelligence (indexed by tests of abstract reasoning and pattern detection);
  •  "crystallized" intelli...
The peak of our cognitive functions

There's no age at which humans are performing at peak on all cognitive tasks - our various cognitive functions peak at different times and past a certain age it might make more sense to view adult intelligence not through the lens of youthful general processing speed and reasoning, but through the lens of expertise, wisdom, and purpose.