Maturing and Aging

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There are a lot of negative associations towards the elderly as far as intelligence is concerned. That is a very narrow minded attitude towards them. I agree with the video that irreversible psychological deterioration is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to elderly intelligence. As we get older our understanding of what is necessary to be happy becomes very narrow. When we are young I think there is a pressure to take advantage of everything that the world has to offer. in order to effectively do that, we are constantly furthering our own knowledge and skill set.

I think that societies standards are built off of that model. As we get older, and we get a few decades worth of years experience under our belts, our vision for what is essential for happiness gets much narrower. Life becomes much simpler. We do lose things like strong hearing and we do struggle with some other physical setbacks, but those things don’t qualify us as unintelligent. The most healthy of older generations practice selective optimization much more than those who are not healthy.

Older adults can select fewer and more meaningful goals and activities, optimize their existing abilities through practice, and compensate for the losses of some abilities by finding other ways to accomplish tasks. My grandparents are the perfect representations of both examples. As my grandmother has gotten older and her health declines, she has become more and more reclusive. She always says that she isn’t capable of doing the things that she was once very active in doing.

Then there is my grandpa, who in his younger days was one of the most aggressive and active skiers I have ever met. Even just after retiring he was going skiing every day. He has now passed into his 80’s and while he can’t physically handle the level of activity he once had, he still works at the resorts he frequented as a mountain guide several times a week. He is generally a very happy man and I think it is the practice of selective optimization that allows him to feel that way.

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