Think Old Age = Poor Memory? Think Again, For Your Own Memory’s Sake

October 29, 2009 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Rocking Chairs and Cats: Stereotypes of Aging (image by jbmclemore on Stock.Xchnge)Stereotypes about seniors and poor memory are cemented in our  cultural views –  so strongly cemented that even young people jokingly refer to misplaced car keys as “senior moments”.

But buying into these stereotypes may help make them reality, according to research from  North Carolina State University.

The study found that seniors who believe older adults have poorer memories and would perform poorly on memory tests did, indeed, perform poorly, while seniors who didn’t believe that aging and failing minds are connected did significantly better on the same test.

And it’s more than just belief –  if the participants were told that older adults scored lower on a particular memory test, they would, indeed, score lower.   And if they believed that they were being looked down due to their advanced years, their scores dropped, as well.

Another tidbit from the study? The negative impact was strongest in those with the highest amount of education.  The researchers felt this reflected the value those individuals placed on their mental function, and that their self image would be most affected by the suggestion their minds and memories were failing them. And although the study didn’t address it, negative stereotypes can increase stress levels, contribute to depression and discourage social participation,  all of which have long term negative consequences for brain function.

So the social stigma of the doddering, senile senior may actually create  that reality for some older adults – especially since the lower score on the tests would tend to reinforce the negative stereotype for them.

It’s one more reason to actively spread the word that aging does *not* automatically mean a failing mind, and that simple lifestyle changes like mental and physical exercises, diet, social contact and sleep can help keep us sharp throughout our lives.

And can we make a pact, right here and now?
No more talk of “senior moments,” ‘kay?


Have you submitted your entry yet? Submit a 500 word essay by November 5th, & you could win a $2500 brain fitness system for a senior friend or family member!  Check out the full details of Dakim’s “Give Thanks for Loved Ones” Contest”

Entry filed under: Purpose. Connection & Spirit, Supporting Science & Medicine. Tags: , , , .

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About This Blog

A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • A Sense of Purpose & Connection
Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness



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