Senior Citizens Day

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared August, 21st to be National Senior Citizens Day. This day is meant to be a celebration of seniors and was created to encourage younger generations to spend time with their elders or do volunteer work for the elderly who are in need.

There is often a misconception that the aging brain becomes less capable and less intelligent. While it is true that there can be some difficulties with memory and processing speed is definitely slower, some areas of cognitive ability are actually better than they are in younger counterparts. For instance, age brings breadth of knowledge and experience that cannot be learned in a classroom or by reading about it. Decision making and reasoning skills are bolstered by this knowledge and experience. Older adults often have stronger language skills and larger vocabularies than younger people as well.

Because we now know that the brain is malleable and can continue to create more neurons and neuronal connections, even older adults can exercise their brains and improve areas that they may not be as sharp in. This can help people to stay strong in their careers and independent well into their later years. I have a family friend who is still practicing medicine full time and he is well into his 80s. Clint Eastwood is still acting and directing at 82. Also at 82, Neuropsychiatrist and Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel is still studying and writing about the brain. All over the world people in their 70’s and 80’s are using their knowledge, skill and intelligence to contribute to our world. Today should be a day to celebrate that.

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