Memory Myth About Elderly
Since its inception as a field of rational scientific study, medicine has accepted the degeneration of brain function in elderly people as a natural occurrence.
This deterioration was thoroughly documented with “hard” findings–as we age, our brains shrink, grow lighter, and lose millions of neurons every year. We have our full complement of neurons by age 2, and by age 30, the number starts to decline. The loss of any single brain cell is permanent, since neurons do not regenerate.
On the basis of this well-known fact, brain decline seemed to be scientifically valid; sadly but inevitably, to grow old must lead to memory loss, decreases reasoning ability, impaired intelligence, and related symptoms.
These time-honored assumptions, however, have now been shown to be wrong. Careful study of healthy elderly people has revealed that 80 percent of healthy Americans, barring psychological distress (such as loneliness, depression, or lack of outside stimulation), suffer no significant memory loss as they age.
The secret depends on habits of mind, not the circuitry in the nervous system. As long as a person stays mentally active, they will remain as intelligent as in youth and middle age.
Adapted from Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine by Deepak Chopra (Bantam Books, 1990).