Is forgetfulness a curse or a blessing after an age?
For me, always a curse.
And it seems like some of forgetfulness isn’t really forgetting, but just an inability to recall when you want it, it often shows up, just minutes or weeks after you really wanted it.
Hi FOS, OM and Judi,
A lot of truth in what each of you write, and I suspect that there are more things at play also – we are so complex but we like to keep things simple for explanations, so we often over simplify (which is great for easing the burden of decision making, but not so good in keep reasonably accurate models of reality).
Ailsa’s mum has been in dementia care for about 4 years, and it has been really noticeable the difference hydration makes. If she is at all dehydrated she has no idea who I am. If she is well hydrated, she knows my name, and we can have a conversation.
We have at least 16 levels of systems, and many instances of complex adaptive systems at each level, and they all interact with each other. Some effects are small but cumulative over time, and others are self reinforcing (as OM clearly observes), and some can be countered by instantiating other systems.
I can see the systemic possibility of, over time, developing systems to mitigate all the debilitating effects, and enhancing our abilities; and we are not there yet, and we are a lot closer than we were even 10 years ago. And it seems very likely that it will involve some sort of “Regen Tank”, where billions of tiny robots work though our bodies giving us an “overhaul” at the cellular level. For the moment, that is still science fiction, but not very far away from becoming science fact.
Can’t come soon enough for me – some of the injuries I am currently carrying I would be very happy to see repaired and the effects mitigated out of my systems (which seem to be me).
I have met people in their 90s who are really sharp – can happen.
And there are lots of risks.
Avoiding canned and heat preserved plant foods is probably a very good idea (or if you must eat them, then slow boil them for at least an hour first to remove all methanol – methanol to formaldehyde seems most likely to be the major source of dementia in our culture, and the main source of methanol in our diets is from the breakdown of pectin in plant matter). Having a little ethanol with meals seems to be a reasonable mitigator of risk also – as it competitively blocks the enzyme responsible (no more than half a glass of wine on this excuse 😉 ).
So a very complex topic, with thousands of different factors.
And almost everything about being human has a “use it or lose it” aspect.
All competencies degrade if not actually exercised.
And just on a simple numerical basis – the older we are, the more experience we have had, and the longer it is going to take any search algorithm to find what we want – no avoiding that simple aspect of being.
There is the added complication with stem cells that all DNA replication involves errors, and mostly they are not critical.
So part of effective stem cell therapy will be mapping several thousand of our cells, determining what our original genotype actually was, correcting any errors that were their really need correcting, then manufacturing the repaired DNA, inserting it into our own stem cells (which we can now manufacture via a set of chemical triggers) from any cell line), then putting them in the critical places in our body so they take up appropriate roles, then induce apoptosis in the unwanted neighbours.
A somewhat more complex process, and necessary if one is interested in real longevity and high functionality.
And it’s probably 30 years or so before that sort of technology gets tested and fully functional (will want to have done a few generations on animal trials – probably mice – quicker generations).