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Mental activities can delay mental aging |

Health And Family

Mental activities can delay mental aging

THE SEX ADVISOR - Eppy Halili Gochangco - The Philippine Star

Dear Eppy,

I am 40 years old now with three teenage children. My husband and I have a good relationship. But my concern is not about my family with my husband. My concern is about my parents. My father is 75 years old and my mother is 72 years old.

I have a younger sister who still lives with my parents. She is still single and likes staying that way. But every time we talk, she would talk about my parents and I get disturbed after hearing her.  She notices that my mother is so worried about money nowadays. She also thinks my father seems to be selfish with money now.

Is it possible that my parents are changing because of old age? There are other details, but it will take a lot of space if I wrote about them. My father is forgetful now, but not as much as my mother. My mother seems to forget some events. Sometimes, I wonder if there is something wrong with me. I would ask her if she remembers a certain event and she would say it never happened.

So, I thought I was imagining things or that I was going crazy. I would go to my sister and ask her if this event happened and she would say, “Yes, it did happen.” Of course, I was relieved, but I also would feel sad because I would end up thinking that maybe my mother had Alzheimer’s and might not recognize me by next year.

Do you think my mother has Alzheimer’s? Do you think that after a year or two, she would forget about me and might not recognize me anymore?

Scared Daughter

Dear Scared Daughter,

Nowadays, people are so scared of Alzheimer’s because of the movies and television shows they watch, which depict symptoms of the disease. There are also magazine articles, and other reading materials that you find in either the Internet or the bookstores that have stories of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

It would be unwise to diagnose your parents by using only your stories. It is best for you to send your mother, or even your father, to professionals helping aging people. There are medical professionals who take care of aging people only. There are also psychologists and psychiatrists specializing in helping and diagnosing older people.

But let me tell you something about older people. I must agree that part of the process of aging is the deterioration of the brain. Just as our body deteriorates, our mental performance will also have to deteriorate.  However, it may not be that bad for older people.

It might seem that younger people are good at memorizing data and their responses may “seem” quicker than older people, but older people may do better in other things. For example, a younger person might be able to quickly move around the mouse pointers in a computer, but older people may be better at giving solutions to life problems. Solving life problems that cause less conflict is a gift that some older people possess, which we call “wisdom.”

Your mother might have forgotten some events. But anyone can forget any event in his/her life simply because he/she does not focus on it. You may not remember an event in your life simply because it wasn’t important to you, but your sister or mother might both remember that same event because it had an impact on them.

I was reading a book about memory and one guy in his prime years remembered the time when he was a boy.  He continued narrating, “….  I remembered our dog Spot, which had a big black spot on his eye, between me and my brother while we looked at the beautiful sunset. I will never forget that because it is one of my treasured moments.”  The researcher interviewed the brother and narrated the story of his brother to him and asked, “What was your experience on that day?” The brother said, “What?! We never had a dog named Spot!”

Not because your mother didn’t remember an event, it doesn’t mean she has Alzheimer’s. Yet, I encourage you to bring your parents to a professional so they can continue life with a healthy mind.  There’s research that shows that mental aging can be delayed a bit. People who do mental tasks such as crossword puzzles, play mahjong, play bridge, do art work and so on, are said to be mentally healthier than those people whose minds are always idle.

Talk to your parents. Talk to them about life and the news. Make them explain things and analyze things. You will have them with you for a longer time. Don’t tell them what to do and treat them like they actually can’t remember anything because their minds will stop working and deteriorate.

* * *


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