Life in the Boomer Lane and her friends now save a lot of money on entertainment. Rather than attending movies, plays, shows, the ballet and symphonies, they regale each other with hilarious stories of missed appointments, missing objects, and misplaced people. This occurs mainly when they are out to breakfast or lunch or dinner or any other number of eating opportunities that present themselves throughout the day.
Discussions like this, after everyone has had time to run to the bathroom and deal with wet pants, usually ends with everyone reassuring themselves that they do not have either Alzheimer’s or dementia. They then exit the restaurant without paying their check and after having left their cell phones and keys on the table. The good news is that they don’t get very far, before the waitperson comes running out of the restaurant, waving the check, and their phones and keys. That precipitates another round of laughter and more trips to the rest room.
Now, a new study has confirmed the worst: Research from UCLA shows that brain aging can begin to show as early as a woman’s 50s.
The study showed that mental processing ability declined an average of 5 percent over the course of roughly a decade. Cognitive functioning was measured based on two main areas: processing speed, an indication of quickness of perception and reaction; and verbal memory, which tests memory of words and language. Processing speed declined roughly 1 percent every two years, and verbal memory declined an average 1 percent every five years. Given this statistic, LBL and her friends are now operating at a net deficit in brain functioning
Let us now turn our attention toward the latter: verbal memory. Another term for verbal memory is “I used to know the word. Does that count?” LBL has always been proud of the fact that, while she now forgets numerous nouns and adjectives, her prodigious vocabulary often saves the day. And example would be her desire to say the following:
“Now Husband believes that re-painting the house is a frivolous endeavor.”
In the sudden absence of the phrase “frivolous endeavor,” she might substitute
“Now husband believes that painting the house is an unnecessary monetary expenditure.”
Easy substitution, and no one is the wiser. Now, that sentence results in:
“Now Husband believes that painting the house is that word that means where you spend money without having a good reason. But I painted anyway.”
These events go on all day, gradually reducing LBL to the status of an ESL student.
According to Huffington Post, “The findings are particularly striking given that previous studies on middle-aged women have failed to detect any changes in cognitive function.”
As a male reader, you are now thinking, “I’ve just dodged a bullet, here.” As a female reader, you are thinking, “I wish Kellyanne Conway would begin to lose a lot of her words.”
Huffington Post asks the critical question here: “So why do women seem to experience cognitive aging earlier than men?”
While hormones have been blamed for virtually every malady women have encountered over their lives, in this case, hormones are innocent. Menopause, the big Boogeyman of women’s bodies, minds, and voting patterns, has also been considered and discounted.
Along with that mystery is uneven decline, relative to individual women.
Some women decline slower and others declined faster,” the head researcher said. “The next step will be to determine if there are malleable factors that influence the rates of decline. If I were to guess, I would conjecture that cardiovascular risk factors ― blood pressure, blood glucose, blood cholesterol, inflammation, etc. ― have strong, possibly causal, links to the rate of decline.”
If you believe you are falling prey to cognitive decline, take the above quote and substitute all the big words with other words and see how well you do. Then eat ice cream and forget about this stupid blog post.
The article goes on to say, “If you’re concerned about early brain aging, there are many research-tested methods for preventing early cognitive decline at any age. While the study didn’t specifically look at interventions, we know that things like meditation, exercise, yoga, eating a healthy whole foods diet (with lots of leafy greens) and maintaining a positive outlook on life are all-powerful ways of protecting the brain from aging.”
Please forgive LBL for her reaction to this, but she has read these items as a cure for all maladies on the planet, whether age-related or not, as well as being able to find a good man. She suspects that, after reading this, legions of women will be found in downward facing dog position, stuffing their faces with raw kale. LBL, on the other hand, will be found with a thesaurus, memorizing synonyms for “egregious,” “unconscionable” and that word that means when the president has to go before Congress and then they throw him out of office, in order to prepare for her next verbal tirade.