I hate to play the “If only game” because I am not sure I would change my path – that path made me better, stronger, and helped me find my purpose. There are a few “brainy” things, had I known, that just might have been helpful both to me and to those whose lives intertwined with mine.
SEE PEOPLE AS PEOPLE, NOT AGES
I am better than I was at in my 30s or 40s — even in those moments when I can’t find my keys or the exact right word. My peers and contemporaries amaze me daily, even though we all joke about not remembering why we came in this room or finding our cars in the parking lot. I have learned to see people and not just their age.
Here is the part I wish I would have understood long ago. We don’t need to “overcome” what comes with age. We need to put all those pieces in perspective and incorporate them in our current life’s mosaic. Each adds color and variety so why not embrace, celebrate, and use them to maximize the quality of our lives?
In all reality, most of the time we don’t need more help just because we are a year older. Often that extra year provides more to give than a need to take. Respect, dignity, and quality of life should rule how we treat each other, not age.
MISSING A FEW BEATS IS OK
I wish I had known that treating brilliant adults who are temporarily missing a beat, for whatever reason, as if they were children robs them of their dignity. Struggling to see, hear, or speak, does not make a person less intelligent so it is not OK to dumb it down for someone with a physical or cognitive challenge. I wish I had known to keep it smart and understood that I needed to be more patient. I learned that lesson the heart-wrenching way. I watched my brilliant mother struggle with cognitive issues and suffer the indignity of how the world treats people who are temporarily missing a cognitive beat. She had so many rounds of wicked chemo therapy treatments that she sometimes felt the cognitive fog that comes with chemical interventions intended to make us better. We worked, together, to vanquish the fog and some days that worked. On the days when she was not quite as sharp, the world did not see the amazing woman who earned a Master’s Degree in the 1950s and stood toe to toe with statesmen, policy makers, and publishers as she fought hard battles against censorship. Respect, dignity, and quality of life should rule how we treat each, without regard to conditions beyond our control.
ONGOING QUEST FOR UNDERSTANDING
And then there are the things I continue to learn.
Finding the exact right word does not matter. Not being able to pull out the right word every time does not make me any less accomplished or capable or sharp – it just means that my brain may have other ideas about what is important. I am learning to listen to my brain and find those things that truly are more important.
Thanks to the internet (and my smart phone), I don’t need to remember everything – I just need to remember how to look things up. That is not lazy or weak – it is just practical.
Humor is both one of the most complicated cognitive tasks and one of the most feel-good processes in the daily human experience. Filling my life with good jokes, funny thoughts, and laughter only serves me well.
Engage in life – play games, talk to people, read, create, sing, dance, learn new things – do what makes you feel good and keeps you active.
Respect, dignity, and quality of life should rule how we treat each other, without regard to, well…anything.
I am a brain game creator, focusing everyday on brain fitness and the ageless brain. I am a proud Baby Boomer who landed, somewhat gracefully, in midlife better than ever. A friend asked me to write a chapter for her book about what I would have done differently, from a brain perspective. The entire book is so inspiring. Please check it out. If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Doreen Guma. This is a piece of what I wrote.