At present I am reading this book by Dr John Medina called Brain Rules for Ageing Well, which I would like to share with you. There was a previous book called Brain Rules which was a best seller, and I am sure this one will be also with such a worldwide aging population.
It is important to appreciate that we all belong to an era that has been subject to many of the massive changes that have occurred over the last 50 odd years. But we are now faced with another massive change and that is that we as a group, will most probably live longer than any other group that have gone before us. But if we are going to live longer, then it is important to live a quality of life.
This book is an insight as to how this may occur and the importance of understanding the role of the brain in aging well.
The introduction begins talking about a Harvard researcher who took a group of seventy-year-old men into a monastery for 5 days in the fall of 1981, the first year of Ronald Reagan’s administration. Reagan, coincidentally, was exactly their age. These men were stereo-typically old, as if ordered from Central Casting as “Eight Infirm seniors.” They were:
With poor vision,
Poor hearing and memory
Some of the men required canes to walk into the monastery
A few could not carry their suitcase up to their rooms.
Whilst in the monastery, their brains were put through a time warp, they did not live in 1981 but in 1959. The monastery was filled with songs like “Mack the Knife” and the “Battle of New Orleans”. On the black and white TV, the sporting events of 1959 and all the news of that year was shown. Issues of Life Magazines and the Saturday Evening Post of 1959 lay about. For all intense purposes, they were living in 1959.
The result of this project was so outstanding. That walk down memory lane was the reason the men were so happy as they left the monastery. Waiting for the bus to take them home, a few entered into a spontaneous game of touch football, an activity most have not done for decades. Even a casual visual inspection of these seniors revealed that something dramatic had happened, as the New York Times reported. They had changed in the following ways:
Their Posture more robust.
Their hands gripped more tightly.
They handled objects with more dexterity.
They moved more easily (touch football for heaven’s sake).
Their hearing had sharpened.
Their vision also sharpened.
A sampling of their conversation would have told you something in their brains had dramatically improved, and this impression was proven by a second round of IQ and memory tests.
This book describes not only how the brain ages but also how you can reduce the corrosive effects of aging. So, here are 10 Brain Rules for Aging Well:
Be a friend to others, and let others be a friend to you.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Mindfulness not only soothes but improves.
Remember, it is never too late to learn – or to teach.
Train your brain with video games.
Look for 10 signs before asking, “Do I have Alzheimer’s?”
Mind your meals and get moving.
For clear thinking, get enough (not too much) sleep.
You can’t live forever, at least not yet.
Never retire and be sure to reminisce.
This is just the beginning of the book, which I think is so powerful and more importantly makes us rethink about ourselves and the life we live. Too often it appears, that we often think that we are old, and should act our old age, or should we? We are at a wonderful stage of life, where we are totally in control of our own lives, and not being told by anyone, how should we act. Therefore, why not act like we are still young just like on the Tennis Court, when we refuse to give up on a shot and we surprise ourselves and our old bodies, when we get the shot back.
It is all in the mind and it is what we say. How many times in the last month, have I heard “I know nothing about IT.” It can be easily learnt. It is time to learn, and open new worlds, that will amaze you. So, if you would like to hear more from this book, make some comments, start a discussion, so I know you are interested.