Senior Moments: 1. Myths and Facts

Stan Goldberg, PhD

This is the first of an article series on senior moments abstracted from my book, Preventing Senior Moments: How to Stay Sharp Into Your Nineties and Beyond.

Everyone has said or done something they immediately regretted, like forgetting the name of a granddaughter, misusing a common word, making a bizarre connection between events, or forgetting how to get to a favorite shopping mall. As we age, the number of these occurrences increases. We call them “senior moments,” a phrase described in books and on social media as humorous statements or behaviors said or done by people over 60. But how many of these beliefs are based on facts, and how many on misconceptions?

Myths

There are seven myths that, unfortunately, have lent credence to the popular belief senior moments should not be taken seriously—a misunderstanding that shuts the window to understanding how we process information now and preparing for cognitive problems that may predict our future. So here are the seven myths: Senior moments:

                        1. Are momentary brain glitches confined to seniors

                        2. Can be lumped together

                        3. Are solely the result of memory problems

                        4. Are an inevitable part of aging

                        5. Should be no more concerning than a good laugh

                        6. Are just isolated events that do not define who you are

                        7. Can be eliminated just through motivation

Facts

Senior Moments are neither limited to people over 60 nor fleeting.

Yes, they do occur more often in seniors. Still, there is no age starting line.

There are Nine Different Types of Senior Moments.

Although all senior moments have common elements, they differ from each other in significant ways.

Memory is only one causative element of senior moments.

Although a faulty memory is often pointed to as the cause of a senior moment, if it is a memory problem, the type of memory needs to be identified (there are four types), and not all types of senior moments are caused by faulty memory.

Senior Moments Are Not Necessarily Tied to Aging.

Although senior moments tend to be more prevalent as we age, there isn’t an “inevitability” connection.

Some Senior Moments May be Humorous, But Most Aren’t.

Standup comics may find enough humor in someone else’s senior moment to base a routine on it. But there is no humor for the person who cannot remember the zip code for a house he has lived in for 40 years.

All Senior Moments have causations.

Senior moments do not just rise out of “nothing.” They are the result of various factors coming together.

Being Motivated to Eliminate a Senior Moment is not Sufficient to Prevent It.

Motivation is rarely enough to change any behavior and is wholly inadequate for stopping a behavior that is based on neurology.

The Takeaway

We live in an age where it is easier to accept myths rather than search for facts. This may lead only to heated discussions in politics, but it can hide incredibly important insights for understanding how we process information. In Senior Moments 2: Nine Types of Senior Moments, you’ll learn why it is important to determine which type of senior moment you are experiencing. To be notified when the article is published, please join my mailing list.

Preventing Senior Moments, by Stan Goldberg

Offers practical and achievable prevention strategies for senior moments.

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