Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why You Won't Likely Become Senile

"It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The reverse is true. As one grows older, one climbs with surprising strides."
- George Sand

We come to believe that most people who live long enough will become forgetful, absent minded, even confused about many things. We call it senility.

Isn't senility an inevitable disease for most people? No. It's the most preventable disease we know about. Senility is the direct result of mental inactivity for too long.

Most of us know that our muscles atrophy if they are not used. A person with a broken leg, for example, might find the muscle mass in the healed leg much reduced when the cast (or other device) comes off from what it was before the break. Senility is nothing more than atrophy of the brain.

The brain atrophys when it isn't used enough for problem solving and heavy thinking. Our brains, like the rest of our bodies, are built for heavy work. If they don't get enough work regularly, they lose the potential and strength they once had.

"Use it or lose it" applies as much to the brain as it does to the rest of our bodies.

Heavy brainwork even uses up a fair amount of energy, about 31 percent as much as heavy lifting. But we can think for longer than we can lift heavy weights, so thinking is good exercise.
Watching television is not brain exercise. The brain gets less exercise when we watch TV than it does when we dream.

A working brain solves problems, creates new work or considers the various factors that influence a given situation. Television does that work for us, which is why some programs for adults aim at a mental age of early adolescence. Our brain gets almost no work when we watch television.

Senility can be turned around if caught in time and if the person wants to change. However, it requires considerable dedication and determination for a person who is not used to using his brain to work it heavily for an extended period of time every day. Reading a newspaper is good if the person thinks about each item he reads. Reading books is another excellent form of exercise for the brain.

Nature provides that we can become something more than we ever were before as we age. When our bodies stop performing the way they used to when we were younger, our brain should be able to take over and turn us into a new and magnificent person.

Those who have accomplished this change know how dramatic it is and how much better they feel about themselves while their bodies get achy and creeky.

The biggest hurdle is to persuade a lazy brain to exercise when it has been so comfortably ensconced in lassitude for so long.

But it's worth the mental exercise to avoid becoming a breathing vegetable in a nursing home for the last years of our lives.

Bill Allin
Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to make our senior years interesting and fulfilling.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

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