A friend of mine complained a lot that she found learning new things was becoming harder for her as she was growing older. Then one time we actually started talking about this and I told her that I didn't know what to do about it, because it was happening to me too. I too found it harder to learn than when I was 16. I hoped that this would comfort her a bit.
But when she heard it she almost through a party about it. She said something to the effect that it was so great that I too had this problem and that it wasn't just her.
I laughed with her, because I was glad she was somewhat relieved, but this just kept bugging me ever since.
What do you think? Is it natural to react this way?
You can do something about the loss of information, to an extent. You really cant do anything about the fact that it is harder to learn new information. Babies learn to talk just by listening to thier parents. I couldnt learn a new language that way now. As far as "seem"...its just that, not everybody is going to talk aobut it.
Depending on what you are trying to learn, sometimes it is easier when you are younger, but somethings are easier when you're a bit older. To me it sounds like your friend is struggling to learn something, and was starting to think that there was something wrong with her. All she wanted to hear was that she is not alone and other people have a hard time picking up new things as well. As soon as she knew she wasn't alone, she was elated. She no longer thought that there was something wrong with her. Relax, it's natural. Sometimes you have to tell people what they want to hear. It's cool.
I think her response was natural - depending on the ages of you and your friend. I'm 51, and I find it harder to recall things now. It makes me feel better when my friends the same age say they're experiencing the same thing. It makes me feel like there's nothing "wrong" with me - that it must just be part of the natural aging process since others are feeling the same way. Your friend's reaction was probably just one of refief.
Learning IS harder as you get older. She was probably very worried, thinking something was seriously wrong with her. Finding out someone else feels the same, was a relief. It isnt that she thinks something is wrong with you, she is happy to find nothing is wrong with her.
well, Im older then you, and I am a girl. and I worry about stuff. So, when I find out Im "normal" it makes me happy. Thanks for posting this tho, I never thought that a reaction of that sort would be upsetting to the other perosn. It makes sense now that you say it. I honestly dont think she meant any harm.
Yes, I know. And I was happy that she felt better by it. It's just that there was this big celebration too. But I know she was thinking of herself, not me. I usually don't show my feelings this openly if I think it might be insensitive. But that's just plain bad for me, I guess.
Yes, Pacal. I've done a bit of research about this and even wrote a hub about it. My mom and grandmother both had Alzheimer's, so naturally, I worry about developing it. I do all kinds of cognitive exercises to keep my brain active.
Hi, Froggie! I also love to learn, and I'm a whiz at trivia. What I sometimes have trouble remembering are things from years past. Luckily, I have old friends to help, and when there's something they can't remember from when we were kids, I can often fill in the gap. Together, we have great collective memory! lol
There was an article not so long ago published by the Alzheimer Society that doing one or more of Sudoku, crossword, logic puzzles etc daily gives the brain fine tuning exercises. I'm an avid puzzle solver but still can't figure out how to change the time on the VCR/DVD player...
Lot of great comments here Pascal, but don’t be too quick to dismiss your initial gut reaction. As a clinician, and as a person with multiple family members with Alzheimer’s, my gut is twitching on this.
What was your gut telling you when you posed this question? Did you fear your friend was looking for an “out” when perhaps she may have issues a little more serious?
Yes we may experience changes in our abilities as we age. It is definitely known that memorization tasks become more difficult, but our comprehension tends to improve. Many later-in-life students have been pleasantly surprised by their school success. Yes memory issues are more common in the elderly than with the young. Yes confusion is more common with the elderly, but confusion at any age can be dementia, and age trends aside, it is always a concern. Women may have thyroid- or menopause- related memory issues. Significant stress can impact memory and other cognitive functions. Untreated sleep apnea can dramatically impact cognitive skills. Significant memory issues at age 50 or 60 would be concerning.
If it were me, I would tell my friend that since our discussion, I had some nagging concerns, and felt a strong need to discuss it some more. Ask her for examples of the kinds of trouble she is having. Maybe this will set your mind at ease, or clarify that perhaps your friend should further explore her cognitive status with her provider.
Sometimes examples are dramatic. A client told me once she had memory issues. Her example was losing her favorite tea pot and much later finding it in the bedroom closet. That was much more than an example of memory problems. Please ask for examples of her difficulties in learning new things.
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