“Those who continue to read and write well into old age suffer 48% less memory loss, dementia and other mental impairment than those who don’t take part in these activities. “
-Larry Upshaw, Ageless Authors
Community membership in the Writers’ League of Texas allows businesses and organizations to support our programming and services. It’s also a great way for our community of writers to learn about the many valuable and varied services, programs, and opportunities available to them.
Dallas-based Ageless Authors is the only national group exclusively for senior writers age 65 and older. Read a guest post from Editorial Director Larry Upshaw below, and find more information about Ageless Authors’ upcoming contest for senior writers at the end of the post.
Writing, reading key to mental agility in seniors
“Lyric poetry is a domain where talent is discovered early, burns brightly, and then peters out at an early age.” This statement by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, when extended to writing in all its forms, presents a frustrating future for older writers wanting to publish.
It’s well known that novelist Jonathan Safran Foer wrote his 2002 bestseller Everything is Illuminated when he was 19. And Stephen King published Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining before he was 30. Somehow, though, we discount the fact that Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at age 58 and Laura Ingalls Wilder completed her Little House series at age 76.
We have bought into the obsession with youth, searching for effective ways to combat aging. There is a physical side to it all, packing fitness centers to aim for peak performance by strengthening muscles and building endurance.
We also have what you might call mental gyms. For a small monthly fee, websites like Lumosity.com and MyBrainTrainer.com promise to enhance memory, attention and other mental processes through a series of games and brain teasers. They fit perfectly with our instant gratification culture, providing ready-made mind exercises for people who worry that time is catching up with them.
For members of Ageless Authors, the nationwide organization of senior writers age 65 and older, the answer may be closer at hand. A 2013 study published in the journal Neurology suggests that writing and even reading books slows down cognitive decline in old age and those who participate in these mentally stimulating activities over their lifetimes have a striking edge in memory and mental agility over those who never read or write.
Those who continue to read and write well into old age suffer 48% less memory loss, dementia and other mental impairment than those who don’t take part in these activities. This jibes with the purpose of Ageless Authors, which is to promote and encourage creativity and especially writing as long in life as possible.
In a Smithsonian.com article explaining this phenomena, journalist Marina Koren writes:
“Reading gives our brains a workout because comprehending text requires more mental energy than, for example, processing an image on a television screen. Reading exercises our working memory, which actively processes and stores new information …. Writing can be likened to practice: the more we rehearse the perfect squat, the better our form becomes, tightening all the right muscles. Writing helps us consolidate new information for the times we may need to recall it, which boosts our memory skills.”
The key to mental acuity is the same as physical superiority over the long haul; start your exercises (reading and writing) early and stick with them throughout your life.
Senior writers, when you are forced to look up a word that was in your active vocabulary just a decade ago, or you confuse John Irving with John Grisham, know that you are doing everything you can to slow aging.
Just curl up with a book or your trusty word processor.
Find out more about Ageless Authors here.
Larry Upshaw is Editorial Director of Ageless Authors, the only national group exclusively for senior writers age 65 and older. This group is now conducting its second annual writing contest awarding cash prizes and publishing. Deadline is Wednesday, February 28. Click here for more details and to enter. For more information, email email@example.com or call 214 405-5093.
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