Let’s Ban the Term “Senior Moment”
In the midst of choosing a piece of music, my dance instructor forgot which dance we were about to work on. He said he was having a “senior moment.” Given he’s all of 30, that was ludicrous, of course, but it totally got my hackles up. Saying ‘senior moment’ to me, a senior, is not acceptable.
You see, thinking of oneself as forgetful because one is older feeds right into the perception that moving through time means that we decline, that we inevitably lose our ability to function and think clearly.
With that, our body, which is intimately connected to our thoughts and emotions, responds with “as you wish,” and we end up fulfilling that dreadful prophecy.
Our Perception About Aging Matters
Science shows that what we think about ourselves impacts our bodies and minds – for good or for ill.
Studies consistently reveal that older individuals who think more positively about aging have better memory, walk faster and – importantly – demonstrate lower adverse cardiovascular responses to stress, as compared to those who think of their aging in a more negative way.
Not only that, but people who have more positive self-perceptions of aging do better in terms of their health and longevity. Those who think of their aging in more negative terms tend to have poorer health and not live as long.
That’s reason enough to examine our self-perceptions about our age and make adjustments if necessary.
After I explained to my dance instructor that I distaste the term ‘senior moment’, he laughed and told me he’ll start using his family’s expression, “CRS,” for such moments, as in “Can’t Remember Stuff.”
I loved it, because there were plenty of times in my 20s, 30s and 40s that I would stand in the middle of the living room wondering why I’d walked in there, and they certainly weren’t attributable to my age.
We have CRS moments at any age, and we don’t attach harmful perceptions to them. We can’t remember stuff. Big deal. We’re human, we’re busy, we get distracted.
When you feel tired, do you think, “I’m getting old. I just don’t have the energy I used to”? Or do you say to yourself, “I’m tired. I think I’ll take a nap”? Or eat an energy bar. Or take a short walk.
Think back to when you were 30. When you got tired, you didn’t say (I hope), “I’m 30. I’m old. That’s why I’m tired.” You said something like, “I need a nap,” or “I’ll eat a banana, that’ll pick me up,” or “I’ll do a few jumping jacks, that’ll get me going again.”
Don’t Make Age an Excuse
It’s not so much what you choose to do to counteract your fatigue, it’s how you think about it. Same thing applies with what you choose to think when you forget where you put your keys, or what time you are supposed to show up for an appointment.
At 30 or 40, you didn’t bat an eye. You figured some way to remember these things and off you’d go. You didn’t say, “I’m 30. That’s it, I’m too old to remember anything.” Why inflict that thought on yourself now?
Your body and mind respond to your thoughts more than to anything else. Yes, of course there are physical ailments and conditions that get in the way of energy and memory, but frankly, there are physical ailments and conditions that impair the healthy functioning of 30-year-olds as well.
For example, do you think that Barbara Walters, famous U.S. groundbreaking TV journalist and producer, at 89, thinks of herself as old? I doubt Ms. Walters thinks much of her age at all.
Instead, she continues to host specials and be a vibrant television presence in what she calls her semi-retirement – and this in a business where supposedly only the young can thrive.
So, let’s stop damaging ourselves with the ‘senior moment’ or any other senior excuse for how we feel and function. Instead, let it be just a CRS moment and then find positive solutions to whatever it is that needs attention.
What techniques do you use for remembering things? What are your thoughts about aging as you move through your 60s, 70s and beyond? Do you find yourself using age as an excuse? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Dr. Noelle Nelson is a psychologist, consultant and speaker. She is passionate about personal growth and happiness. She’s authored over a dozen books including “Happy Healthy… Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right.” Please visit Noelle’s website.