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How to Not Get Alzheimer’s Disease

June 24, 2006

Old people depress me.

I find that many people over the age of 70 are boring, slow in speech and in movement, stuck in the past, forgetful, unwilling to think critically or change their habits. This depresses me because

1) I might be there someday and 2) Much of this is preventable. Some of the depressing features of old age are due to the biological effects of aging: your muscles and most aspects of your brain don’t work as well because your body is breaking down. But many features are caused by the decisions that most people make that lead to this depressing old age.

Adults, at least of the last few generations, after schooling, get a job. They learn everything they need to do well at this job and then they pretty much stop learning. The next 30-50 years are spent doing the same activities over and over. It may not be easy, but its just applying the same knowledge and the same way of thinking on a new situation. Then these people retire, and they find themselves spiraling into dementia, senility and often Alzheimer’s Disease.

Now I did say that not all older people have these conditions. One example is university professors. Many professors are very old, 70s, 80s and yet they are nothing like the average nursing home person. Why is this? One reason might be that they are surrounded by students who listen to their lectures and take their tests (something that is proven to boost life expentancy). However, I think a lot it is also because professors are engaged in research. They are actively trying to create NEW KNOWLEDGE. This activity requires the brain to think, a lot. The maxim comes to mind: Use it or lose it. In the case of the brain, this maxim applies to the utmost.

The takeaway: learn new things throughout your life and you will find old age not as depressing as you imagined.

Abstract on Leisure activities and reduce risk of dementia:

One Comment leave one →
  1. piapest permalink
    July 3, 2006 1:19 pm

    Does this mean I can cite this paper to explain my addiction to sudoku – that is, a means to delaying my neuronal degeneration?

    Also, I’d like to point out that this is not entirely fair because many positions actually do require constant learning of new techniques, hence training classes. Rather, I would think a person’s character (i.e. their pursuit of new knowledge), rather than their occupation, serves as a better indicator of when dementia sets in.

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