Senior Moment? Think Again!



It’s a fact! While some abilities decline with age (like remembering a name or certain types of visual processing), many older folks actually become sharper at tasks that are considered to be cognitively taxing. “Olders” are also more adept than their younger counterparts at things like: conflict resolution; empathizing with the plight of others; controlling negative emotions like regret, fear and anger; vocabulary recall; character assessment; and identifying essential data without becoming distracted by non-essential information.

Take, for example, semantic memory, one of the cognitive abilities that assist us in remembering facts and figures. According to psychology professor Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “Semantic memory is relatively resistant to the effects of aging.” And specialized knowledge – like that gleaned from specific training or a lifelong hobby – is stored in the brain and is seemingly immune to the downside of the aging process. The same goes for selective attention and other brain functions that require an ability to concentrate on a project without losing focus.

Joy-Lofthouse-smile-TwitterWhat does all this mean for those of us who are concerned about running into “good-old-what’s-his-name” at a party? It means that, while a 65-year-old air traffic controller might forget a name, she can still manage multiple stressful tasks with the same – or higher – level of competency as her 40-year-old team member. As proof, consider the fact that, due to preliminary research back in 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration revised the retirement age for pilots primarily so airlines could benefit from the expertise of older navigators. It also means that anyone under 60 probably shouldn’t challenge that 75-year-old, self-proclaimed Scrabble champion to a ‘friendly’ game of winner-take-all! A little specialized knowledge goes a long, long way!

So, if you experience a senior moment, take heart – and think again! There is a wealth of information in your brain’s cognitive templates just waiting for the chance to come on out and make a lasting impression.

The Council on Aging has volunteer opportunities, classes, activities and special events to help you share your knowledge … or acquire a little more! Please call
(904) 209-3700 or visit www.coasjc.com for details!