Aging Minds and Personality


For the time being we are going to ignore we ever knew about a generation gap; it simply doesn’t exist as it did in previous generations. 

We have grandparents who take a yearly trip with their children and their children’s children. They spend the entire vacation in the same rented home or cottage, living under the same roof. This is a common sight these days, and one which has closed the gap from previous generations.

minds-eyePeople live longer. It isn’t strange to see a ninety-year-old riding along on a golf cart, without a care, and thankful to be alive. Today seventy is young and anything before seventy your sometimes considered a child to the seventy-year-old.

What is so striking is the difference between families, and how they survive into old age with more problems than others. I have observed how people in their fifties can be different from someone in their forties, and so on down the line.

Perhaps we can pinpoint the aging process by a simple test at birth or would a simple personality give you the ability to keep the bad cells we all have within us, under control? I believe we can control our aging process. Personalities make an enormous difference no matter your age.

Last week I was sitting with a man, no names mentioned, but his laughter alone kept my interest, his smile, and most of all the same personality I have noticed when we crossed paths years ago. On the other hand, I have been in the presence of many individuals who never smile, seem to be locked inside their cocoon. 

These individuals are secluding themselves from the outside world – were they always this way? Did something drastic in their life take them into this other world, different from the last? When you are out and about take a moment and observe those who are spending every minute outside of a cocoon and compare them to those who sit alone on a park bench.

We seem to be born with part of our personality. How many times have you held a child and said he or she is nothing like sister or brother A or B. We notice the difference and many times comment on the difference as we try to figure out every trait passed on from one generation to the other. We have learned a quiet child at ten does not mean he or she will be quiet or shy by the age of sixteen. Perhaps the shy child smiled and kept the rest of their personality hidden when it came to strangers. 

How many times have we as parents warned our kids, “Never talk to strangers.” So someone who visits their home, or a new school, strangers in a playground, and so forth, can keep the real personality from emerging. The same idea goes back to the child who teases and roughhouses with his or her classmates; many end up with good grades, become an expert in their field, and learned what part of that outgoing personality needed to be shut down, but for how long would depend on the needs of the individual. Having had many opportunities to watch children grow into adults who were members of the same family has shown me proof we are all different from birth, and we are given a personality but what we do with it makes a difference.

 The elderly with a smile looks and feels better than the elderly person who pouts all day. Everyone has experienced depression, or needs to take the bad with the good, tough times are part of life but learning to handle yourself during those times makes a big difference on how you will be in your future. How many times do we hear someone passed away, and only a few months later the spouse will pass on because of change and loneliness. 

So what does all this talk about accepting life, persevering your life to live longer, happier, and staying young at heart have to do with a good life in those golden years – your personality, the makeup of a person which partially we were born with, and took it upon ourselves to shape. Our frontal lobe of the brain is where personality is controlled. Any damage to the frontal lobe can or may change someone’s personality.

Doctors from Northwestern University researched five individuals after death, who lived a life free from any cognitive change, remaining as sharp as they were when they were in their forties. All five subjects were what doctors would say, “tangle-free.” The brains of those examined had no signs of damage caused by the clogging of brain cells by tangles that are made up of bad protein. 

The medical world has known for generations; some of the elderly will experience a decrease in their cognitive function with age, from mild dementia to a form of Alzheimer’s. We also have learned the medical world is finding out there are more forms of Alzheimer’s – up to one hundred plus undiscovered or named by science. Doctors do know each person, like their personality, is different.

Personality is controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain, and as we observe others we notice the elderly change along with their personality. The lay person would say it is normal to forget or to be crabby, ill-tempered, and chuck it up to old age. No one gets too excited about forgetting keys, or where you placed the book you were reading, but when you can’t find your way home, or you begin to wonder if this holiday is Christmas instead of the fourth of July, it’s time to seek professional help. 

As mentioned – personality comes from the frontal lobe of your brain. You here the elderly joke, oh it’s only Alzheimer’s, when they misplace something. Can we change how we will be in our golden years, as it remains a mystery. I have noted how some people have the abilities of a forty-year-old when they are in their nineties, the people who maintained a sharp mind throughout their life. 

We know how common it is when you notice changes in the elderly. The medical profession agrees it is caused by either a slow or quick loss of brain cells. The loss of brain cells happens when bad protein causes tangles in the brain and kill off brain cells that can lead to the onset of dementia; cognitive dysfunction, according to the medical journals and research.

A prime example of this concerns two people married at twenty, connected at the hip, so to say, and born the same year, only days apart. Both of them have been different regarding attitudes, but their daily living has been nearly identical. One I will call the cranky one and the other forgetful, and knows it. On the other side – the cranky one is forgetful but still can get from one place to another, city to city, without getting lost. The brain of this person seems to keep location and familiar sites as clear as when the couple was first married.

On the other hand, the other spouse could not make it around the corner without becoming lost, but still holds onto a wonderful personality. This subject can’t find his way around town but hasn’t lost his perspective on life; he laughs, carries on a conversation, knows when he forgets his way. He admits to his absentmindedness. Yet the one he was joined at the hip with for over fifty years doesn’t know the day of the week, is still crabby and complains with a personality one would stay clear of. 

Could someone’s personality make the difference in their mental capacity as they age? Is this what keeps some elderly sharp while others decline. Could we be looking at a personality problem that sets off the bad protein as we age, which destroys the good brain cells?

Take the couple above; the cranky one has more memory loss than the other who gets lost while driving, but he remains happy over his days here on earth. So the cranky one might have a difficult time accepting age, so something inside this individual, similar to a cell – but we will call it a capsule, inside of us that may explode and give off bad protein due to our self destruction. The happy individual remains social while the crabby one drifts away from a crowd.

It is common when you begin what is known as the twilight years, your mind slows down, you may forget a word or two, but not Christmas.

Could someone’s entire lifetime and their personality reflect on the future regarding his ability to remember. Can we be prone to a disease that attacks the brain cells by bad tangles made up of bad protein? The one who laughs may not get to your house on time but when he arrives, he will smile, look brighter, happier and join in on the festivities. Could it be the cranky one never had the ability to communicate and always had a rather crabby personality?

Are we born with these tendencies to be a cranky old soul? Are some people born with a personality trait that keeps them on the straight and narrow, remaining thankful for each day they walk on this earth. May our minds harvest a quality we carry for a lifetime determining the path our mind will travel.

I understand physical illness is a different aspect of this disease, especially when it hits at a younger age. I know we have hundreds of forms of dementia without a name. The condition is so varied; a disease as varied as we are as individuals.

Going back to those who remained sharp until death did they part – the first person I see in front of me is Thomas Edison, who as shown in the photo continued living, learning, and experimenting, no matter his age. Many scientists fall into this category. Scientists keep their minds active, and this helps them to concentrate on progress, no matter their age, which in turn can delay the nasty protein from appearing and attacking brain cells.

Aging, as a long run in life, gives you the right to continue those things you enjoy but cuts down the speed of completing a task. May the secret be accepting change, or is it born to the individual like their personality.

Every time I go to the Y to swim, early in the morning, there is a woman swimming who is in her nineties but appears much younger, speaks clearly, has a good mind, and her only drawback is when she is out of the water, walking slower. Could someone who keeps their body in good shape through some form of exercise keep the bad protein under control? If we are looking at a single protein within our body that lays dormant, can we control what happens at any stage of our life, through a better attitude and a stronger will to live?

Think about those who lost a spouse, the stress alone can manufacturer a cancer or even death. The loss of someone close turned off what I could now name the happy cells.

We are all different, and our body is made up of its’ cells. When someone at any age is depressed, it causes an imbalance in the chemistry, and a brain is not functioning properly. So we have learned a great deal about depression; a single pill can keep the mind stable to live a normal live, (in some cases) simply by shutting down the bad, and keeping the good. So could the same thing be true when we think about living a long life with sharp minds? I have placed many questions in front of you, questions even doctors cannot answer.

We have all heard – give an older person a dog or cat for friendship, and they tend to live longer. Once again, the personality lifts and life has meaning. The same goes for someone who loses a spouse or close friend it becomes a temporary replacement for loneliness.

Some believed the television was company, but more and more people would disagree, knowing how depressing some shows are, which would throw those people on the edge into depression – and perhaps turn on those bad proteins.

With all the research, and discovery in 2008 concerning tangles in a person’s brain – the next step would seem to be a deeper seed within ourselves that triggers the bad capsule to explode and send signals to brain cells. Could we all be better off if it were as simple as accepting ones’ self for who we are at any age to keep us young, happy, and filled with excitement with each rising sun.

  1. Avatar of Jack Eason
    Jack Eason says

    When you get to my age Nancy, you realize it isn’t a generation gap so much. More, that the world has moved on while your back was turned.

    When you get increasingly annoyed by incorrect usage of your mother tongue, such as the current obsession with inserting the word ‘like’ several times into a conversation, you definitely know you are fast being consigned to life’s sideline.

    Even so, life on the sideline has its benefits like peace and quiet. lol


    1. Avatar of Nancy Duci Denofio
      Nancy Duci Denofio says

      Hi Jack – I understand where you are coming from especially when you speak about peace and quiet. But you are the type to keep your mind busy, writing outstanding material and having this ability will keep you young and at peace with yourself. You are doing what you want to do. BTW – your work, I do believe, keeps your spirits high and your mind busy. Keeping busy is one of the secrets of staying young.
      Thank you for reading my work –
      Sincerely, Nancy

  2. Avatar of Paula Shene
    Paula Shene says

    I don’t have the luxury of allowing my mind to age. Having a husband with dementia, one we now find, was caused by a smack in the head in the course of a near fatal car accident, makes my days full physically and mentally.

    When young, I did not bother with directions or electronics but now the must arises and so I do.

    My world is more physically contained than it was five years ago but my family is closer with the advent of technology and the relatives in the neighboring area are quicker now to stop. One of my sons now in his mid forties has an older personality than I but he always was this way. He considers himself old while I in my just over the cusp in mid sixties had planned on working well into my seventies. I was physically derailed because of cancer but that has not really slowed me down too much, just moved me in another direction.

    I sometimes feel like the little alien sitting in the big body in Men In Black. I still feel the first kiss from my husband of forty seven years, my spirit has not advanced. Only my body.

    1. Avatar of Nancy Duci Denofio
      Nancy Duci Denofio says

      Hi Paula –

      I understand the problems you are facing with your husband, my cousin developed the same thing from a fall. They are finding injury to a certain area of the brain can cause dementia. The recent fear are geared toward those in sports; football, lacrosse, baseball, etc. where some type of injury will only show up later on, and could change a persons lifestyle.

      When our body ages, in this day and age, we have many ways to keep it up to date. LOL – but if you are happy with your own life, and gracefully aging, smiling, keeping busy, it helps to get over the hump or the age on a calendar.

      When a body is fighting a disease it does make a difference but it doesn’t mean you have to be “older” – it means you have to accept the disease, do what you must to keep it in line, adjust to change, and treating it as a circumstance not a restriction from the norm. Regardless of the battle, I have found those who learn to accept change, deal with the illness, and look forward not backward – to find things of interest, take your mind off yourself, help others, and even help those with the same problems can break that old cycle of “poor me” which is heard so often.

      I understand more than you know about fighting a disease, keeping your spirits high, smiling and believing in yourself while helping others. You were given a double dose, and it makes it that much more difficult.

      There was a time when I would visit the ill, those with long term care needs, and try to make them smile, pass on some hope and the desire to live. Knowing those who have suffered with both cancer and dementia – understanding the uncertainty is not easy for anyone. I wish you the best of luck – so take off those alien suits, and try to remember your body as a healthy one. May you be blessed by miracles. – Your spirit, and self esteem is the prize – I have members of my own family who wanted to live, insisted they would fight until they beat cancer – and they had this positive attitude. I will be thinking of you.

      Sincerely, Nancy

      Always, Nancy

  3. Avatar of Joyce White
    Joyce White says

    Hi Paula and Nancy. Interesting points. I’ll be 70 next year, aging has left my mind free of self doubts and ambitions. I’m experiencing some dementia that irritates others but on the other hand, everything I pull out of my closet is new to me. It is exciting to put on clothes not remembered every day. My world is blissful and I can write with my heart not my ego. I love spending time with my granddaughter, Heather. I’m a little jealous she is just starting out in a law firm, whereas, my legal days are over. I typed divorce papers the other day for someone. The judge was impressed. Still got it, yeah!!!

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