Getting Old vs. Being Old, Part II: Cognitive Decline

Charlie Bernstein

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. . . Lately (over the last few years), everything seems very 'meh'. I haven't learned anything new in awhile because I just don't care. Yet, I feel like I'm just as intelligent as I was at 24, maybe even more so. But I just can't get excited about anything anymore.
That's not cognitive decline. That's midlife crisis.
Is that lack of excitement how we get old, mentally?
For you, apparently. Not for everyone.
Have any of you felt this way,
My midlife crisis was different. It came in the form of dissatisfaction. I still got excited about things. I still had projects. I was just blue all the time.

It went away somewhere around my mid-fifties. Short form: I got over it.
and found a way out of it? I've met people of all ages who have demonstrated that accelerated learning I've mentioned above, and in each case they seemed excited about what they were into.

How do you stay excited and interested in new things?
I don't know. I just do. I've never been bored. There's always something to do, even if it's as simple as taking a walk or seeing what's in the fridge. Projects always abound. There's always something good to read. There's always new music to hear. There's always another cocktail to invent. There's always something to volunteer for. There are always open mics.

How much time do you spend looking at a TV or a smartphone? Those are famous for turning people into joyless zombies.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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I’m 70 and I don’t get excited about much anymore. I blame it on the forced lock down and some disappointment in the supply chain fiasco.
I don’t play guitar as much as I’d like to. I put off a bunch of things that aren’t that important. My memory sometimes fails me and sometimes I surprise my self with what I remember.
I don’t feel like I’m depressed as much as I’m apathetic about a lot of stuff. The dark and
I really need something to kick me in the butt and get my juices running again. IF there was a place to get out and jam that just may do it. Unfortunately there isn’t and I don’t see anything on the horizon.
We're all different. I'm seventy, and I enjoyed the lockdown — felt lucky to have the luxury of not needing to go out and make a living.

As for supply chain, I don't need a lot of supplies anyhow. And my memory has always failed me. I was the kid no one wanted on his baseball team because I'd be daydreaming in the outfield and not realize the ball was coming my way.

Depressed? I do have a depressive personality. But that doesn't mean I can't have fun. In fact, all the more reason. Anything that brightens the day is a welcome relief.

As for jamming: When I can't play with anyone else, there's always my livingroom. Playing alone isn't as much fun as playing with other people, but I do love good old fashioned woodshedding. I'm left handed, so I spent a lot of the pandemic improving my right thumb coordination. Now I'm a Delta hotshot.

AND — worst comes to worst, there's always the great crew here at TDPRI to commiserate with!
 

cometazzi

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How much time do you spend looking at a TV or a smartphone? Those are famous for turning people into joyless zombies.

(Not to skip over your other excellent replies) I spend zero time watching TV. I've never been much of a TV watcher.

I will admit to an excessive amount of screen time, but it's 99% on a computer and not my phone. Aside from TDPRI and occasionally trolling Reddit I'm not involved in nor entertwined with any social media of the usual sorts. Most of my screen time is spent staring at schematics, reading about programming, sometimes music theory. Up until recently I was playing a lot of video games, mainly to take my mind off the 'bleh'. My day job involves lots of screen time as well, but that's work stuff.

I make conscious efforts to back away from the computer(s), play guitar, go outside, take walks, etc. I could probably do more of that, but I'm at least doing it daily, most days.
 

Lonn

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I just turned 60 a couple of weeks ago and my memory has been crap for years now. To the point where I'm not performing as well as I'd like on the job anymore. There are other factors at work there as well bu long story short I'm not the manager I used to be, at the moment at least.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Posts
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Augusta, Maine
(Not to skip over your other excellent replies) I spend zero time watching TV. I've never been much of a TV watcher.

I will admit to an excessive amount of screen time, but it's 99% on a computer and not my phone. Aside from TDPRI and occasionally trolling Reddit I'm not involved in nor entertwined with any social media of the usual sorts. Most of my screen time is spent staring at schematics, reading about programming, sometimes music theory. Up until recently I was playing a lot of video games, mainly to take my mind off the 'bleh'. My day job involves lots of screen time as well, but that's work stuff.

I make conscious efforts to back away from the computer(s), play guitar, go outside, take walks, etc. I could probably do more of that, but I'm at least doing it daily, most days.
Great! The less screen time (including computers) the better.

And you're doing things, which is a sign of life. You have a fighting chance at thawing out the ol' juices. Plenty of good ideas above from our other TDPRI brothers and sisters.

Has anyone suggested eating more greens? Psychotherapy? Getting a dog?
 

dougstrum

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At 70 I realize that energy and interest comes in waves. Since being a kid I've always had some project going on. Large projects are often followed by periods of inertia.

Perhaps you are in one of those times when you just need to sit back and reflect. I don't know, but you have gotten plenty of good suggestions from folks here to consider.
 

Skyhook

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Turku, Finland
I turn 48 next Wednesday. I'll be sure to call Mom and talk to her a bunch, because it's her Special Day too.

Meanwhile, I've thought a lot about this part lately... Physically I'm fine, but I feel as though I've lost my 'mojo'. Not so much the part about attracting ladies, but that fire of youth, the drive of one's life, the push that makes things happen. In all my college Psychology classes they would say that cognitive and motivational abilities peak around age 24, and then decline thereafter. From that point, a person shifts from fluid intelligence to crystallized intelligence, and while 'wisdom' sets in and is useful, the ability to learn new things wanes.

Call me stubborn, but I refuse to believe that.

I can think of various points in my life where a certain phenomenon has happened. When I was 11 or 12, I got my first computer (Commodore C=16). I learned how to program in BASIC almost overnight, and got good at it, for whatever that is worth. It was eclipsed at age 14 when I got a guitar. In the spring of 1989 my High School English Teacher showed me some chords and loaned me a Mel Bay chord book. When I returned in the Fall to hand that book back and lots of questions, we jammed and he said I was at the level of someone who had been playing for years. Later, at 24 (half my life ago) I first got into the Internet and got back into computers. I learned a whole lot of things about networking, Windows, UNIX, Linux, and several programming languages all at once, and started working for an ISP within a couple of years. A few years later, I had a similar 'sudden ability' with electronics, and started building stompboxes, programming microcontrollers, and later building both solid-state and tube amps.

What I did isn't so important as what happened when it happened: In each case above, it was this euphoric, accelerated learning cycle where I effortlessly absorbed information and knowledge like a sponge, and was able to systematically and confidently apply it in a useful way. I feel like this is the key to learning: motivation and/or desire. Probably self-confidence, too. I'm sure everyone experiences this as well.

Lately (over the last few years), everything seems very 'meh'. I haven't learned anything new in awhile because I just don't care. Yet, I feel like I'm just as intelligent as I was at 24, maybe even more so. But I just can't get excited about anything anymore.

Is that lack of excitement how we get old, mentally? Have any of you felt this way, and found a way out of it? I've met people of all ages who have demonstrated that accelerated learning I've mentioned above, and in each case they seemed excited about what they were into.

How do you stay excited and interested in new things?
Wow!
I envy you!
I've never been able to learn stuff like that.
Getting even a little knowledge into my brain has always been a trench war between new info and my
brain shouting "NO! NO! NO!". Stupid brain. IFF I happen to learn something, then it sticks pretty good
and can be applied at appropriate times. Like the proper application of the abbreviation "IFF".
 

Skydog1010

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I felt like I was reading my own bio, tacking on about 20 years to the timeline. I was still finding different things to be interested in until I lost my wife last December. Now I feel like I'm just living to take care of myself and the puppy I adopted June 2015. Trying to live economically now so my investments are a legacy gift to her children and grand children.

I feel I am increasing in wisdom but have lost interest in acquiring new knowledge to act on, with the exception of becoming very interested in micro gardening, a hobby that will pay back more than I invest in it.

I got dealt a tremendous blow with my wife passing suddenly (we were very close) and I may be able to turn the mojo back on, probably slowly, and I'm very determined to not let my mind go to waste as long as I am living.

I too am just not as motivated as I was a year ago, but have noticed a gradual general decline post 65th birthday.
 




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