No Time For Tea - Too Busy Learning Nuclear Physics





AS I gallop towards the twilight of my years I avidly read any article that tells me how to hold back the ravages of time. Hopefully there are a few more years before I am pushing my Zimmer frame towards the sofa to settle down to watch daytime television with my milky cup of tea and bowl of prunes (have to keep regular). 

I'm considering taking up nuclear physics for nerds or brain surgery for beginners. 

You see, I was always quite hopeful that my brain would stay relatively sharp because various articles told me that doing crosswords kept senility at bay. I love crosswords – even those obscure cryptic ones.

“How on earth did you get that?” the better half asked me the other day, as I worked out that the answer to “deer controller employs English guy behind the scenes” was “stage manager”. I tried to explain that: 

deer=stag;
controller=manager
Stick the E for the English in the middle of "stag" and "manager" and you get “stage manager”
I.e. the “guy behind the scenes”.

He stared at me. “Sorry,” he said, “All I heard was blah, blah, blah.” I didn’t like to tell him (a cabinetmaker) that I spend my life hearing “blah, blah, blah” when he starts wittering on about spindle moulders, edgebanders, routers and visits to the saw doctor.

I mean, what does a saw doctor actually do? I have visions of a handsaw, badly damaged after an accident with a careless chisel, lying on a table while a man in an overall tries to fix its shattered teeth before wrapping it in bandages.

Oh dear, senility seems to have kicked in already. I’ve forgotten what I was talking about. Oh yes, keeping my brain in good working order.

Sadly for me, a study found that doing crosswords is not enough for the over 60s to keep their brains sharp, as I have so often read. It is much better to learn new skills. The important word is “new”. You must get out of your comfort zone. Not only that, you must continuously challenge yourself.

As Dr Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas, who led the study, said: “When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.” I almost heard “blah, blah, blah” in that quote but I think I know what she means.

Researchers found that those learning new skills showed more improvement in memory than those taking part in non-active or social activities. Dr Park said: “This is speculation but what if challenging mental activity slows the rate at which the brain ages? Every year you save could be an added year of high quality life and independence.”

So I’ve started looking through all those evening class brochures to see if I can learn anything new.  Brain surgery and nuclear physics are sadly lacking on the curriculum. I certainly won’t be quilting (five thumbs on each hand) but photography sounds appealing. Or I might learn a foreign language - îmi iubesc pisica.

And if there’s a course in saw doctoring, edgebanding or spindle-moulding then I’m all over it like a rash.


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11 comments:

  1. If a Zimmer frame is more commonly called a "walker," then I can certainly empathize with you.

    I admire anyone who can figure out those cryptic crosswords. I can handle the regular ones, no problem.

    When I retired (or rather was forced into retirement by disability), I took up blogging.

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    1. I suppose Zimmer frame must be a more British term - Zimmer is the name of a firm that makes walking frames. I think blogging keeps the brain active - well, I'm hoping so anyway!

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  2. And here I thought I was done with school...Oh well. I've read that Sudoku puzzles were supposed to be better for your brain than crossword puzzles, but after spending nine years focussed on mathematics (to earn a Ph.D. and then teach), I can't get too excited about doing those. I'd rather learn to knit.

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    1. I don't mind Sudoku but prefer word-related puzzles. I'm full of admiration for anyone who has a PhD in mathematics! I can also guarantee that your knitting would be better than mine, although I was taught to knit by my long-suffering mother.

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  3. I'm very comfortable in my comfort zone. I have thought about doing a course in photography, or maybe learning line dancing or something, but none of the things I'd like to try are free and my budget is a big fat zero. So I'll keep on with the crosswords and code crackers puzzles.

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    1. I know the theory of getting out of one's comfort zone but can't summon up much enthusiasm for doing it! So I'm going to carry with crosswords, codes, logic puzzles etc too.

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  4. haha...great post. If learning new skills helps with the brain then I am good. Retired two yrs ago and started doing wood work and learned to make bread. Made my first wedding cake recently...do these things count? Found you via Darla Sands blog.

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    1. Good for you! I started cooking when I became semi-retired. Even made cakes - didn't realise how easy it was!

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  6. You made me giggle. And its good advice. Hmmm... What would interest me? I'm not yet fifty but always interested in keeping an agile mind. Hope the full time work is not too taxing. Be well!

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    1. I'm hoping my mind stays active for a few more years yet! My full-time work is coming to an end in about three weeks - then I shall once more be a semi lady of leisure!

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