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On Being A Hermit September 19, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Life Balance.
51 comments

Researchers don’t know what causes many dementias of the later years.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a rather Universal RX or prescribed set of behaviors  for staying sharp in old age . . .

And that RX includes maintaining social ties.

If the proponents of this RX are to be believed, hermits will not fare well as they advance from middle age to geriatric stature. 

Instead of aging gracefully, those prone to solitude will lose their minds . . . even if no one is around to notice.

As someone with vast reservoirs of untapped introverted tendencies at my disposal, this agreed upon RX for cognitive well-being in one’s senior years has both concerned and perplexed me.

Concerned thought:  Will I really lose my mind at a faster rate because I am not a party animal prone to wearing designer gowns at gala events? 

Perplexed thought:  Stress causes our brains to age faster.  Being around people, especially badly behaved  people, is stressful.  Ergo, we should avoid people whenever possible. 

But how can we avoid people to reduce stress while  “maintaining social ties” to preserve cognitive functioning?

What’s an introvert to do???

After sharing my “perplexed thought” with BFF the other day, I stumbled into an answer to this age-old old age question.  As an added bonus, it substantiated my take on the subject.  Yay!  

Here it is: 

I feel obliged to say that social engagement is NOT a universal criterion for cognitive wellness.  Indeed, many studies on successful aging have found that some older adults may exhibit adaptive, healthy aging because they REDUCE social interation in thelr lives and thus avoid the stress and strain it can cause.
 
Successful aging is not prescriptive; it occurs on a case-by-case basis.  Ultimately, you need to assess your own life domain and make the decisions that you feel will best promote your wellness.
 
~ The Myth of Alzheimer’s, p. 255

Yes!  Dr. Whitehouse, a renowned expert in the field of geriatrics, recognizes that extroverts are not the only ones who can make it to the finish line with memory, logic, and reason intact.

I love it when people agree with me, especially if they seem to know what they are talking about.  

If they’ve already lost their minds to creeping senility, like most crazy old hermits I know, I’d just as soon not have their stamp of approval. 

Aah . . . that’s better!