Why Did I Open This Refrigerator And What Are My Glasses Doing In There?
Mysteries Of Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder And 5 Ways To Hold That Thought
By Mary Johnson, Editor
Attention deficit disorder is not just a condition affecting kids — it’s often triggered by aging. When I was younger, my mother used to discover her eyeglasses in the fridge, but not too long ago I found mine there. Recently I attended a “Science of Willpower” workshop offered by our local Osher School of Lifelong Learning in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, I learned about the new epidemic of “age activated attention disorder” and received some good advice for helping us “hold that thought.” Here’s how the condition is described:
Age Activated Attention Disorder
I decide to water my flowerpots.
As I turn on the hose, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.
I go to get the car keys from the porch and then notice mail on the porch table.
I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.
I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the trashcan under the table and notice that the can is full.
So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the trash first.
But then I think, since I can run down to the post-box when I take out the trash, I may as well pay the bills first.
I take my checkbook off the table, and see that there is only 1 check left.
My extra checks are in the computer desk, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of soda I'd been drinking.
I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to put the soda aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over.
The soda is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the fridge to keep it cold.
As I head toward the kitchen with the soda, a vase of flowers on the window ledge catches my eye--they need water.
I put the soda on the window ledge and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.
I decide I better put them back on my computer desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.
I set the glasses back down on the window ledge, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote.
Someone has left it on the kitchen table.
I realize that tonight when I go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the living room where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.
I pour some water in the flowers, but some spills on the floor.
So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.
Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.
At the end of the day:
The flowerpots aren't watered.
The car isn't washed.
The bills aren't paid.
There is a warm can of soda sitting on the window ledge.
The flowers in the vase don't have enough water.
There is still only 1 check in my checkbook.
I can't find the remote.
I can't find my glasses.
I have absolutely NO idea what I did with the car keys.
Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I'm really tired.
I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail.
Is this you? Watch a video of age - activated attention deficit disorder.
How to Hold That Thought
If a day of age-activated adult deficit disorder sounds a little too familiar and you wish you really didn’t have them so frequently, here are five things that can improve attention, memory, and age - proof your brain.
- Daily exercise: According to a growing volume of scientific research, one of the biggest factors in protecting your brain from the effects of aging is the amount of exercise you get every day. Exercise helps reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and stimulates chemicals in the brain that affect not only the health of brain cells but the abundance and survival of new brain cells. It also helps you sleep which can reduce memory problems. You don’t have to sign up for gym membership. The standard recommendation often is about one half-hour of exercise daily that gets your heart pumping, or about 150 minutes a week. In addition to walking, riding a stationary bicycle or the treadmill, “exercise” can include things like dancing, gardening, raking leaves, mopping floors vigorously and climbing stairs.
- Meditation and yoga: New research has found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain — in a very protective way. Just a couple of weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training, developed by the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness, improves concentration and attention since strong focus of attention (often on the breath) is one of the central techniques. Meditation training has long been used as a technique for reducing blood pressure, stress and anxiety and also has helped people quit smoking by learning to “decouple” the state of craving from the act of smoking.
- Take a class: Work out your brain and memory cells in addition to socializing with others by taking classes. Some 119 colleges in every state offer noncredit classes designed for people age 50 and older. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute courses are available at very low cost. In Charlottesville, Virginia, for example, students pay a $50 annual membership, the first course of the fall session is $50 and then each course thereafter is only $10.
- Garden: A recent long-term study followed more than 2800 men and women aged 60 and older for 16 years. The study measured admission to hospital, and nursing homes with any kinds of dementia, while assessing a variety of lifestyle factors. Researchers found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction for dementia in both sexes, reducing incidence by 36%. Gardening involves many critical functions, including improved vitamin D levels from exposure to the sun for good health, exercise, learning and observation, problem solving, sensory awareness and maintenance of sanity, that its benefits are believed to a synthesis of various aspects.
- Sleep: Deep sleep helps the brain store and retain new facts and information. But the structural changes to our brain as we age interferes with the quality of our sleep. That in turn reduces our ability to store memories for the long term. To improve focus and memory, get better sleep. That’s not always easy for people 65 and over, and there may be times when you need to speak to a doctor. The nonprofit Helpguide.org has tips on how to sleep better as we age.