Great Advice for Older People–Don’t Act Your Age!

 

Don’t think your age, either!  The Wall Street Journal had a article recently saying that if you want a sharp mind, don’t act our age..  Based on a large study in France, researchers found that 89% of the subjects felt 19% younger than their actual age, while the other 11% felt older.  Those who reported feeling older scored 25% lower on memory and cognitive tests than those who felt younger.

It reminded me of a story I tell in my book Rethink How You Think.  A study was made of a group of men who were all seventy-five years old.  The researchers wondered what would happen if they could turn their minds back twenty years for just seven days.  Would there be any changes in their bodies?

The participants were asked to attend a weeklong retreat without being told the purpose of the retreat.  Once they arrived, they were told that, for the week, they were going to live as if they were actually only fifty-five years old.  They were not allowed to bring anything with them that was less than twenty years old.  They would watch old television programs, read old books and magazines, and the radio played the musical hits of twenty years ago.  Even the retreat center was redecorated to look as if it were  twenty or more years ago.

Prior to the retreat, each man went through a series of tests that focused on every aspect of a person that we assume deteriorates normally with age.  Their eyesight was tested, as was their memory.  They took IQ tests.  In addition, a number of medical tests were performed, including tests that measured flexibility, hand strength, and even noted the shape and length of their arthritic fingers.  They had photos taken, and videos were taken of their posture and how they walked.

The men had a great time during the week-long retreat.  And when the week was over, they took all the tests again.  The researchers found that their memory and eyesight improved by 10%.  Many of their IQ scores went up.  They even found that their arthritic fingers had straightened. and independent evaluators compared the videos and photos  opf before and after, and said in the after photos and videos, the men looked on average three years younger.

Ellen Langer, who conducted the study and reported on it in her book Counterclockwise, said “it is not primarily our physical selves that limit us but rather our mind-set about our physical limits.”

Question:  If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you think you are?

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