Often as we age, we settle into our familiar routines. They are comforting and provide a sense of control: we don’t have to think, it’s automatic.
During the last fourteen months, you may have become comfortable with the new routines you have established. And now as the Gorge begins to open up, you find the need to change your routines once again; going back to what you once did or creating new routines: a mix of the old and the new.
Changing routines may be uncomfortable, but it can also be beneficial. Since routines are automatic, they require little mental effort which doesn’t increase the cognitive activity that helps strengthen your brain.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that by engaging in new and novel activities that do not depend on automatic processing, we can maintain or even improve our cognitive health. The key is to seek activities requiring cognitive effort where you actively focus; giving enough attention to a task to successfully complete it.
Instead of engaging in a passive activity such as watching TV, try learning something new: a new foreign language, Tai Chi, or join a book club. Or better yet, switch from Microsoft operating system to Google which I guarantee will challenge your brain – but also send you to an early grave!
You can also change the way you do simple daily tasks: drive home a different way while observing your new surroundings or learn to eat with chopsticks and then change hands. Very few activities maintain their novelty for long, so we must constantly pursue new opportunities to challenge our brains. In the simplest terms, you either use it or lose it.
Routines do provide a tremendous benefit in our daily lives. They can literally be lifesavers such as making sure you take all your medications. While others can be routines of convenience: parking in a regular spot at the grocery store so when you leave the store, you don’t have to look everywhere for your car! It works for me. But it is also important to move beyond the automatic and try new challenges for your brain health.
So, take this brain challenge. See if you can remember my favorite “foreign” language when I was in grade school – Pig Latin. And using your Pig Latin reading skills, translate this Phyliss Diller (yllisPhay illerDay) quote. “enWhay youyay ayplay inspay ethay ottlebay, ifyay eythay onday’tay antway otay isskay youyay eythay avehay otay ivegay youyay ayay uarterqay. ellWay, ellhay, ybay ethay imetay Iyay asway elvetway yearsyay oldyay Iyay ownedyay ymay ownyay omehay.”
It’s hard to stay up with youth culture, but when I read that the popular English singer, songwriter, and actor, Harry Styles was promoting men wearing handbags, I thought to myself, “Now I know how my father felt when I started letting my hair grow long! It’s just not right!”
The television series that aired from 1977 to 1984 where Mr. Roarke’s assistant Tattoo would yell “Ze plane! Ze plane!” was Fantasy Island – which reminded Eileen White of a corny joke from the ’70s. “What kind of M & M’s did Hervé Villechaize like best? Answer: de Plain! de Plain!” Okay, Eileen did say it was corny!
I received correct answers from Eileen White, Gene Uczen, Barbara Cadwell, Keith Clymer, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Lana Tepfer, Margo Dameier, and Beverly Thomas who is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Keith Clymer, Margo Dameier, and Linda Johnston.
This is an easy one, but I hope brings back some wonderful memories. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what vaudevillian comedian starred on his own radio and television shows from 1932 to 1965 and was known for his running gags that included his age (always 39!), baby blue eyes, and his cheapskate image? E-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a 1729 Stradivarius violin.
Well, it’s been another week, trying to make the world a little bit better in those small and personal ways. Until we meet again, if you see me wearing a mask, it isn’t because I haven’t been vaccinated, I just didn’t want to shave this week!
“Growth in old age requires the curiosity of a five-year-old and the confidence of a teenager”. Jan Chittister author of “The Gift of Years”