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RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Although we know why the body grows old, can anyone tell me why the mind grows old?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30877points) April 27th, 2010

I’m not talking about Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

I’m talking about how old people think differently than they did when they were younger.

It’s not bad, and it’s not necessarily good. But you must admit… I hope you’ll admit, like me, that you do not look at things the same way that you used to.

Is it just a matter of experience? Is it learned experience?

The old mind can actually seem younger with age too. I know a number of people who used to be uptight, and they would often be accused of acting like an old person. But now they are laid back, with less stress, and one of them is even writing books on encouraging elderly folks to reclaim their inner child’s mind of wonder.

But is reclaiming that wonder filled child’s mind a process of the mind growing older, or younger?

When I think of the traditional concept of an old person’s mind, I think of crabby old people who are bitter about their lives not turning out like they thought it would. All the dreams and aspirations gone with the wind. The pretty girl got away, and that promotion was given to a younger man with new ideas.

But I know some younger folks who speak and complain in this same way. Like a bitter old person, all they do is complain about the world and reminisce about the glory days.

And my traditional concept of a young mind is one that is filled with passions and foolishness. But I know some very old people who act this way too.

What makes a young mind turn old? What even is a young mind vs an old mind?

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7 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think it’s necessary to connect old with uptight and young with carefree. Our beliefs change because hopefully life has given us room to grow and I haven’t at all gotten more ‘prudish’ with age, just more cynical.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Yay stereotypes!
Grumpy old men didn’t become grumpy when they turned 65. They were grumpy young men.

seekingwolf's avatar

I don’t think people’s minds change necessarily.

Of course, you gain new perspective and experience as you get older, but I don’t see this as the mind “aging”, which sort of implies a decline or the coming to an end, which it’s not.

You can’t really give an age to a mind.

Yes, many young people are full of dreams and act stupidly while many older people are bitter, but I think that’s indicative of their experiences. It doesn’t apply to everyone.

seekingwolf's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy

So true! I am a grumpy young woman dating a grumpy old man.

I KNOW for a fact that he’s grumpy not because he’s old, it’s because that’s the way he is. I am quite grumpy now (not typical for my age) but it will suit me when I’m older.

snowberry's avatar

Being cynical/negative/bitter or whatever is not a requirement of being old. Being cynical is a lazy way to go. It’s also not nearly as fun as the alternative. That’s a choice you make. It’s also a choice to be cheerful.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Some people disengage from the world around them as they age and withdraw from the work force. Unless this is required by declining health, this is unnecessary and probably unhealthy mentally. Sometimes they may feel unneeded or unvalued once they are retired. This should not be promoted or expected of older adults.

We are capable of learning to do new things and we can offer society the benefit of our experience and time. Some people refuse to act old and withdrawn and they are examples to be admired and emulated.

The notion that a mind is a terrible thing to waste is as true for healthy old people as it is for young people.

Fluther is one of the things I do to keep my mind active and to try to make some contribution to intelligent public discourse.

mattbrowne's avatar

It doesn’t when it comes to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity

Short-term memory loses a bit of its reliability, but that’s about it as long as old people stay healthy.

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