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February 10, 2020 Last updated: February 24, 2020

Podcast #583: How to Stay Mentally Sharp and Fulfilled as You Age

Everyone gets old. 

But not everyone experiences old age the same way. Some folks spend the last few decades of their life sick, sad, and stagnating, while others stay sharp and find great satisfaction in the twilight years of life. 

My guest today is a neuroscientist who has dug into the research on what individuals can do to increase their chances of achieving the latter outcome instead of the former. 

His name Daniel Levitin and today we discuss his latest book Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives. We begin our conversation discussing the societal narratives we have about old age that don’t always hold true. We then dig into the fact that while the brain slows in some ways with age, it gets sharper in other ways. Daniel shares the personality trait that’s the biggest predictor of a successful elderhood, and the recognizable-yet-surprising reason the idea that memory declines with age is overblown. We also talk about what really works for preserving your memory and keeping your mind agile and keen, and no, it’s not doing puzzles and brain games. We end our show discussing the question of whether people get happier or sadder as they age.

Show Highlights

  • What are some of our culture’s myths and biases about aging?
  • How the elderly get marginalized in our society 
  • What’s going on in our brain as we get to our 40s, 50s, and 60s 
  • Why intelligence improves with age 
  • The importance of conscientiousness as a trait for aging successfully 
  • Why you should focus on learning and doing new things as you age 
  • Do we really become more forgetful as we get older?
  • What can we proactively do to improve our memory? Are brain games bunk?
  • How and when we attribute our maladies to age rather than randomness  
  • Why physical movement is so crucial for physical and mental health 
  • The undeniable power of strong social connections 
  • Nature’s restorative powers 
  • Why older adults are actually happier than younger people

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Daniel 

Daniel’s website

Daniel on Twitter

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