Goodbye Senior Moments: Game On

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It comes as no surprise that cognitive decline is widely viewed as a normal aspect of the aging process. While common to experience some decline in cognitive capabilities as we age, a November 2015 study published in the Journal of Post-Acute Medicine and Long-Term Care JAMDA has confirmed that there could significant benefits to quality of life for older people who play games online.

Another study by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience IoPPN at King’s College London determined that in addition to improving memory and reasoning skills, online brain training also improves how older adults do everyday tasks such as managing personal finances, shopping, cooking and navigating public transportation.

I was just vaguely familiar with the concept of brain games. Then in December 2012 our daughter gifted me and my husband a one-year subscription to Lumosity, the online cognitive training program.  I regrettably took my first baseline test after a couple of glasses of holiday wine. Needless to say, I was beyond mortified that my score was one notch above brain-dead. Truth be told, that Lumosity subscription has been far and away our best gift ever.

With my cognitive baseline established, I received daily programs of five different games designed to challenge my memory, attention, flexibility, speed and problem solving. Within days, I found myself eagerly looking forward to playing the games. And within a couple of weeks, my cognitive functioning was clearly improving.

I must confess that online brain games are delightfully addictive. For example, since December 26, 2012 my stats say that I’ve played 8766 games on average 4 times per week. My longest streak is 11 days and I’ve had a grand total of 21 streaks.  Like exercise for your body, there is a direct and causal connection between exercising with brain games and acuity of your mind.

Enormous satisfaction derived from comparing my cognitive performance to peers in my age group (60-64 year old). Conversely,  I am  sorely humbled when comparing my score to my 30 year-old daughter’s age group (30-34 year old). Let’s  suffice to say that cognitive decline with age is indisputable.

That being said, over time my memory fog has nearly completely cleared away, I am resoundingly more alert and my thinking is exponentially sharper.  And after almost three and a half years of playing brain games on an effortlessly and regular basis, I’m proud to say that I’ m close to reaching the top percentile for my age group and my LPI is in the “You’re among the best of the best at Lumosity” category.

Although I remain a staunch devotee of Lumosity, there are different online cognitive training programs available to choose from. But here’s my main point– beyond a shadow of doubt brain games have made an  enormous difference in strengthening cognitive abilities for both me and my husband.

There is no doubt  whatsoever that a powerfully strong correlation exists between exercising our minds and our ability to keep up ideal cognitive functioning as we age.  Based on my long-term experience, brain training is a highly effective method to dissolve the cobwebs in your brain and a perfect remedy for annoying senior moments. Go ahead, get your game on.

Do yourself a favor. Find an online game program that you like and get into the routine habit of exercising your brain.  Expect to be delighted and surprised by the tangibly measurable improvement in your cognitive ability over time.

Baby Boomer Sex : Time for Revolution?

 

Panda Couple

A very rare sighting of panda bears mating is making the rounds. Did you know that less than 2000 panda bears exist in the world today? This includes pandas both in captivity and in the wild. No surprise that pandas are among the world’s most endangered species.

Curiosity piqued, I ponder how pandas could find themselves in such a precarious predicament. Here’s what I discovered. Female pandas, in stark contrast to their human counterparts, are notoriously known to seldom be in the mood for sex. And I  mean literally almost never. Female pandas are in heat for only 24 to 72 hours just once a year each spring.

If a male panda doesn’t make his move in that narrow window of time, he will totally miss his chance to mate and must wait until the following year.  This brings new meaning to “dry spell”.

It also explains why panda sex is such a rare occurrence and why panda bears are nearly extinct.  Okay, I get it. No wonder Yang Yang and Long Hui’s sex tape has gone viral.

It occurs to me that the panda population plight is in very stark contrast to that of the human species. Just take a glance at the world’s population clock. Yikes. Over 7.4 billion people on the planet.  Now that took a helluva lot of sex.

Despite all this human mating underway, however, sexual intimacy among older people is seldom discussed. I wonder why this is  so?  A study conducted by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)  published in a 2015 journal called Archives of Sexual Behavior entitled, Sexual health and well-being among older men and women in England. The study included 6,201 participants between the ages of 50 and 90.

According to data, older people continued to have active sex lives well into their seventies and eighties.  More than half (54%) of men and almost a third (31%) of women over the age of 70 reported they were still sexually active, with a third of these men and women having frequent sex – meaning at least twice a month.  There’s positively no doubt that older people enjoy having sex well into their golden years.

So why is the subject of sex among older people taboo? In an article entitled The Secret Lives of Sex in the Elderly”, Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg postulates that people generally have a tough time thinking about their parents or grandparents having sex.  There is also a premium placed on youthfulness. These are just a couple of factors that may influence a prevailing yet wrong notion that seniors don’t engage in sex or that senior sex  is  repugnant and uncool.

Dr. McClintock Greenberg suggests that society’s discomfort with thinking about older people having sex has led to a kind of discrimination against senior citizens who want to engage in normal sexual activity but are often denied privacy in care facilities and may even be labelled as pathological.

But here’s the glaring irony.  Baby boomers were the original architects of the sexual revolution that occurred between 1960-1980. It was our generation that gloriously sparked the dramatic shift in traditional values on sex and sexuality.  Boomers radically transformed our culture.  As a result, sex outside of conventional norms was forever redefined.

So here we are in 2016 and baby boomers are aging.  The time has come for another seismic paradigm shift. A sexual revolution for people growing old.  These prevailing beliefs that older people can’t, don’t or shouldn’t have sex are utterly ridiculous. Just go ask a panda.

 

Body Beautiful: Age is Nothing But A Number

Ms. Ernestine Shepard in bikini, age 77

       Ms. Ernestine Shepherd Bodybuilding Champion at age 77

Lessons Learned From The Inspirational Ms. Ernestine Shepherd

  • Spirituality, love, nutrition and fitness are crucial to  well-being during our golden years.
  • Memories and legacies of loved ones can transform profound sadness into triumphant victory by jump-starting our commitment and drive.
  • Establishing long-term goals can help drive priorities, discipline and focus.
  • Those who age with exceptional grace are generally vibrant, vivacious and funny.
  • Sharing life’s gifts with others has a lasting ripple effect that  uplifts and inspires, while challenging cultural stereotypes of what it means to grow old.
  • Strut your stuff with attitude because “Age is nothing but a number”.

We salute and thank you Ms. Shepherd for sharing your phenomenal inspiration and for teaching us all how to soar!

Six Fringe Benefits of Growing Old

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Look around, it’s easy to see that growing old is a privilege not a right. So why does our confused culture place such a premium on youthfulness while waging war on any sign of old age? Why does society promote the idea that aging is simply the beginning of the end?

Younger generations render twentieth century baby boomers as antiquated and obsolete.  As people grow old, we are easily characterized by deterioration and decline.  How easy we forget the enormous advantages that come with our golden years.

Growing old is a beautiful thing.

SIX FRINGE BENEFITS OF GROWING OLD

1. Vast Arsenal of Wisdom, Knowledge and Experiences. Have you every considered how different your younger self would have been if you knew back then what you know today? Consider the rich resource of intelligence and perspective we acquire over in our lifetimes. Our arsenal of wisdom, knowledge and experience is akin to having a comprehensive owner’s manual  to life, readily accessible to troubleshoot, course correct or soar to new heights.

2. Finely Tuned Sixth Sense. How many times have you received a call from someone you were thinking of just moments before? Have your dreams ever foretold what’s awaiting you on the road ahead? As our intuitive sixth sense matures, we develop a powerfully compelling ability to feel and know things before they occur. As we learn to listen and trust this mystical phenomena, we understand how our instinctive insight is a gift from nature that strengthens as we age.

3. Strong Sense of Purposefulness and Self-Confidence. It is very powerful to embody a strong sense of purposefulness and inner confidence that comes from growing older. After decades of living, older adults are acutely attuned to our strengths and limitations, likes and dislikes. As we age, we become much less influenced by the opinions of others. We know who we are, what we want and where we are going.

4. Ability to Balance Triumphs and Defeats.
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same.

This verse from “If” by Rudyard Kipling perfectly describes one of life’s most critical survival skills that strengthens with the wisdom and experience of growing older.  Over time life puts decades of our victories and setbacks into proper perspective.

5. Passion to Grow and Thrive.  The early decades of our lives are typically spent learning prescribed subjects and curriculum. In our advancing years, we choose precisely what we want to learn.  Developing new skills and capabilities provide older adults with immense satisfaction and intensify our desire for continued growth.

6. Reshaping and Redefining Love. As we age, our character and inner self increasingly radiate our long and winding journey.  Our spirituality often reaches new heights as we come to understand how all things are connect. In turn, our capacity to love and to be loved expands in ways we could never have imagined.

Perhaps the greatest fringe benefit of growing old is a stark realization that our time on earth is far too short and fleeting. May the wisdom of our golden years remind us to live each day to its fullest, as though it were our last.

 

Growing Old Is A Beautiful Thing