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The Benefit Of An Older Brain During A Pandemic

Patricia Faust August 2020

Brain Health Kuel Category Expert: Patricia Faust, MGS

I want to take a minute to talk to you about your response to the consequences of COVID-19. 

In the United States some of the financial safety nets are set to expire. It is a gut-wrenching experience to not know how you will buy food or have a roof over your head. There have been many years where I have been terrified that we would fall through the financial abyss. 

Worry – Chronic Stress

Thinking about everything that could go wrong doesn’t make life more predictable.”

As I look back, I see that I wasted a lot of time in worry. I didn’t consider myself a chronic worrier at the time but when everything seems to be falling in on you – worry becomes a part of your life. At least that’s the way it felt at the time. I am sure that there are many people who fit the worry criteria of chronic stress right now. There is so much uncertainty about many things in our world today and no one seems to know what will happen next. Worrying seems to be a way to predict the future, prevent unpleasant surprises, and somehow, someway control the outcome. Thinking about everything that could go wrong doesn’t make life more predictable. And, when we are living in an unpredictable pandemic, we feel each set back even harder. 

Surprisingly, it is your brain that is dictating how you respond right now. For those of us who are a little older (like me!), we draw on our past experiences to help us get through this traumatic time. This is our crystallized intelligence keeping us from doubling over in fear. Our wisdom really helps us keep our wits about us. That is not to say that we don’t experience worry, but we are more positive in our outlook. 

Memory Loss

I didn’t find that I was grounded in my beliefs that I would get through tough times when I was younger. Extreme stress is a traumatic event and your brain becomes very reactive in handling all the stressors coming into your life. I did survive and learned many lessons about handling chronic and persistent stress. But – it came at a cost. I don’t remember events in my life and in my kids’ lives from that time because I was so overwrought with stress. 

What We Can Do

Take this opportunity to dream!”

You cannot sit and wait for solutions to come to you. You have to open your scope of possibilities. Your life has already changed. You may be required to look at further changes. Take this opportunity to dream! I know that sounds impossible at this point. The barriers we put up are created by our brain. Your brain’s primary purpose is to keep you alive – so it is protecting you right now.

If you can’t settle your brain down during the day, then solve your problems during the night. Write all your problems on a piece of paper and put it by your bed. You might sleep a little better because your brain recognizes that you offloaded those worries. During the night – if you are sleeping – your conscious brain will quiet down and let solutions from your subconscious brain come forward. Just write them down. Don’t make judgements – just review them. Keep an open mind about these solutions. You have answers deep within you and now you can work with them.

Keep The Faith

I have a quote – I don’t know who it is from – that I look at every day. “You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith”.  Keep the faith and believe in yourself.

Stay well, Stay safe.

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About the Author:

Patricia Faust is a gerontologist specializing in the issues of brain aging, brain health, brain function and dementia. She has a Masters in Gerontological Studies degree from Miami University in Oxford Ohio. Patricia is certified as a brain health coach and received a certification in Neuroscience and Wellness through Dr. Sarah McKay and the Neuroscience Academy. My Boomer Brain, founded in 2015, is the vehicle that Patricia utilizes to teach, coach and consult about brain aging, brain health and brain function. Her newsletter, My Boomer Brain, has international readers from South Africa, Australia, throughout Europe and Canada. She has also been a frequent guest on Medicare Moment on WMKV and Cincy Lifestyles on WCPO.