Next to going blind, losing my “brain power” is my greatest fear; little did I know that I’d lost a good bit already. According to someone who studies these things, brain decline begins as early as age 27. Apparently, “tests of brain speed, reasoning and visual puzzle-solving ability” show that these skills begin to deteriorate at 27. While “things like memory stayed intact until the age of 37, on average, while abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or general information, increased until the age of 60.” These declines are found in normal brains, exclusive of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
But I guess I did know this already, if not consciously. As I’ve gotten older, I notice that I often fumble around looking for the right word, when before, my brain offered up two, three, sometimes four different choices. And I could choose one at breakneck speed, never pausing. Now I “hum” and “ah” and pause. *Sigh.* I’ve also noticed that my spelling, never my strong suit, has dramatically declined; simple words that I know I once knew I now have to Google to ensure that I’ve got them right (and I rarely have).
Having past the magic age of 37, I’ve also noticed that my memory is a bit off. I once had a fine memory; in graduate school, I could remember where a quote was down to the page number and general location (right page, halfway down). Now I’m lucky if I can remember who said what, let alone where I read it. And I’ve become that person who walks into a room and then forgets why I’m there. I’ll be all the way back on the couch before I’ll remember that I wanted a drink or a Kleenex or whatever. Then I have to get up and go back, hoping I don’t forget again on the way.
I can’t find things anymore, either; I’ll put things away for “safe keeping” only to discover they’re so safely hidden that I can’t find them myself. Like my social security card; I know I have one, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I stashed it for safety. I need to find that one of these days; it’s the only thing that makes me a legit citizen, after all. At least I think so. If memory serves.