As people become older, they have to make more efforts to preserve their cognitive skills and abilities. Men and women who are 65 and more years old use different methods to improve and constantly develop their mental health. Some of them train their brains with the help of games and reading, the others solve puzzles and crosswords, and some engage in various activities requiring concentration and attention. All these activities help older people maintain cognitive abilities and prepare for the natural processes of death and dying.
For this research, I interviewed two aged people to understand how they could stay sharp and young at their ages. The first interviewee was my neighbor, Peter, 67 years old. He told me that he had several methods to train his brain. Thus, Peter is playing chess with the computer every day. He tries to choose more complex levels every time he wins. The man claims that playing with the computer is harder than playing with a human. Such games require full concentration and attention because a computer cannot be distracted. Peter believes that playing chess every day helps him preserve his brain sharp and quick. Another activity he is engaged in is playing solitaire. This game has a similar impact on Peter’s brain as chess has. Moreover, the man tries to read scientific news and watch detective series to stimulate his brain too. All these activities help Peter stay young and quick-witted and prevent forgetfulness.
The second interviewee was Peter’s wife, Natali, 65 years old. Her main method to stay young and sharp is solving crosswords and puzzles. She believes that crosswords train her memory and do not allow her to forget some important notions and definitions. Natali likes reading books too. She is trying to read at least one book per month. She prefers reading detective stories because they make her think about the potential criminal in the story and train her cognitive abilities. Moreover, the woman is engaged in paper cutting, creating beautiful paper designs and collages. She uses small scissors to cut tiny details from a sheet of paper and glue them to pieces of cardboard, making beautiful pictures. Natali is sure that this activity helps her stay sharp and maintain robustness.
Both Peter and Natali told me that the activities mentioned above did not prepare them for death and dying. Instead, they helped them deal with aging and death because they allowed them to stay young and healthy for a longer time. When I asked the interviewees about the processes of death and dying, each of them responded that they tried not to think about this subject. Peter said that he was not afraid of death, and as long as his brain was functioning well, he would feel comfortable. Natali noted that she did not want her children to deal with her mental health problems. That is why she trained her brain with the activities mentioned above to stay young and healthy as long as she could. Both interviewees were not ready to think about death and dying in the nearest ten-twenty years.
Having analyzed the interviewees’ responses and watched the video Neuroscience and Cognitive Training, I can conclude that maintaining cognitive health is crucial for people of all ages. In the video, the researchers have found valuable ways to improve cognitive skills. For example, playing video games is good for monitoring one’s brain activity and training concentration and attention (Rocketboom, 2009). My first interviewee, Peter, is a good example of this technique because he plays chess and solitaire every day to train his brain. The researchers said that “the more talents you have – the better” (Rocketboom, 2009). I agree with this statement because if a person is engaged in numerous activities, they will use different parts of their brain to deal with these activities. In such a way, the brain will stay sharp and young for a longer time. Natali and Peter gave similar pieces of advice and demonstrated robustness and clarity of mind.
I intend to follow the suggestions given by the researchers and the interviewees in the future. It is essential to preserve one’s cognitive skills as long as possible because our mental health helps us prepare for death and dying better. If a person has a clear mind and a good memory, they will have fewer problems facing death and dying. If an older adult is cognitively healthy, they can take care of themselves in household chores and not burden their beloved ones. I do not want to be a burden for my relatives in the future; that is why I will try to maintain my cognitive health and prepare for death and dying in the following ways. I will read books, solve puzzles, play games, and engage in handcrafts to stimulate my concentration and attention. I believe that learning something new is useful for developing cognitive skills for people of all ages. Thus, I will also learn foreign languages to train my memory and stay sharp and young for as long as possible.
Rocketboom. (2009). Neuroscience and cognitive training [Video]. YouTube.