Daniel Levin wrote a book about happiness at old age. He was wondering why some old people lived like they were 35 years old, all vibrant, and others look ten years older than they really are, like a corpse. Why is that?
“My brain does not work as well anymore.” Or:
“I am more forgetful.”
“I lost several friends my age.”
“I am much slower.”
Much of that is true to some extend, but not entirely. “I am more forgetful," has two sides to it. The older person thinks he or she does not remember where they put their keys and immediately think of Alzheimers. A young person will grab their phone, key in their key location button and bingo a buzzer goes off on the other side of the room. He or she goes there grabs the keys and continues what they were planning to do. Same memory loss, different perspective.
“You changed,” may be the response. Well yes you are a bit older, but that may be all there is to it.
Levin also contends that one of the most complicated actions for a human being is their social life, their friends, colleagues, the store clerk. It takes a lot of different neurological connections to respond to what people around us say or do. Never give up making new friends! That is more challenging than trying Sudoku, or putting together a puzzle. Sure, you get better at those latter things if you do them often enough, but not because you train your brain.
Going to the gym, or walking around the block helps you physically, somewhat… A much bigger challenge and far more satisfying activity is climbing over rocks in nature, observing the wilderness around you, watching out for snakes, literally smelling the flowers. What once was a rain forest and now has become a sub-division, you know, but not your children. To them it has always been a sub-division. It takes a lot more neurological connections to manage your way through the rain forest. Your brain does not atrophy!
You may be slower, physically, but with age you are wiser and know short-cuts, what choices to make because you have been there, made those mistakes. You end up at the same place at the same time as that teenager, only via a different route. You are slower, but don’t have to fumble around anymore and you get there just as fast as that teenager.
Elderly? That means you don’t have to challenge your colleague for the next position in the company anymore. You’re in a rest home now, enjoying a hobby, just reading, instead of having to mow the lawn, fix that leaking faucet, or call the plumber to install a new dishwasher. And that is all there is to it, enjoy a new friend, share how you spend your life and where you will do it.