Worried about how long it takes you to remember what you came into the kitchen to get? Do you get half way through a sentence and then forget the name of the person you wanted to say something about? If you’re like me, those speechless moments aren’t easy to laugh off and may even seem to be increasing as you get older. Here’s some good news:
For most aging adults much of what occurs is a gradually widening focus of attention that makes it more difficult to latch onto just one fact, like a name or a telephone number. Although that can be frustrating, it is often useful.
Me and my white hair – we just love positive vibes on aging. This article discusses some wonderful research on creativity and its relationship to how rapidly people decide what is relevant. It turns out that we retain more ‘extraneous’ data as we get older – it’s as though we can handle a broader context as the brain structure grows more complex with age.
“It may be that distractibility is not, in fact, a bad thing,” said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard whose work was cited in the book. “It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind.”
Wow! So that slo mo it’s on the tip of my tongue thing is really my expanding consciousness?
“A broad attention span may enable older adults to ultimately know more about a situation and the indirect message of what’s going on than their younger peers,” Dr. Hasher said. “We believe that this characteristic may play a significant role in why we think of older people as wiser.”
So stick your tongue out at your teenager during the eye rolling. No it’s not Alzheimer’s, it’s wisdom!
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.