Recently I spoke at the Montana Gerontology Society Conference in Bozeman and was really happy to also hear Dr. Gene Cohen speak. He is the author of two great books, The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life, and The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain. Both books draw on his vast knowledge of research (has authored over 150 publications on aging) to make the case for positive changes in the brain that occur as a result of aging. The books also highlight how many really great thinkers and doers of the past and present have created their best work well after the age of 65. One interesting insight is that the brain appears to develop more connections between the right and left sides resulting in the ability to think more creatively and weigh and measure not only absolutes but possibilities. It seems there is a biological component to acquiring "wisdom" as we age. Experience is perhaps helped along by the increased right brain-left brain connections.
It is so great to hear and read about positive changes associated with aging! As we continue to learn more about the possibilities of aging well we can actively re-write the negative "story" currently perpetuated about aging, i.e. that decline into dependence is "normal". It is clearly predictable but is not normal, and certainly not inevitible. Changing beliefs, attitudes and expectations will ultimately change the environment or climate of aging in our communities and our culture. This more positive and empowering environment will have a profound impact on what we believe is not only possible, but probable for aging with vitality and purpose through the full lifespan. It’s an exciting time to be involved in wellness promotion for adults!