13 September 2005

Creatures of Habit

One of my paramedics and I were having a discussion the other day. He is working toward becoming an RN, and we were discussing a class he was taking on aging and senility.

He discussed the fact that more and more, we are learning that
"use it or lose it" is really true.....
People that do active things with their minds like reading, solving puzzles, going to museums, conversing with interesting acquaintances..........
maintain their mental acuity longer than "couch potatoes".
(Eat your heart out, Dan Quayle!)

We then got into a discussion about what creatures of habit we are, and how slight changes in our routines may help us to stay mentally sharp longer.

One of the suggestions he studied was that changing simple things, like the route you take to drive to work or home, would establish new nerve pathways and would stimulate your brain in ways that would help it stay healthy.
Any area of your life that requires you to do routine things........
tie your shoes, make coffee, write notes, etc...........
if you make minor changes in the way you pursue the task, will help to stimulate your brain and help keep it healthy longer.
(Can you write with your weak hand?)

This evening I put our discussion into action:
I noticed that when I take a shower, I do EXACTLY the same things each time! I am right-handed, so this evening I decided I would use my left hand to bathe myself, with the exception, of course, of things that are impossible to do with my left hand, like washing my left arm!

Try it yourself!
What an alien feeling, trying to use my left hand to make the wash cloth go into tiny areas of my right ear, or between my toes!

And the immediate relaxation when I returned to the comfort zone, using my right hand to wash my left arm!
Seems silly, doesn't it?
Well, you'll be surprised when you have a go at it!

But I'm surprised and enlightened by this experiment, and I'm gonna try to put little changes into my life everywhere I can!

So, readers..........all THREE of you!.........I challenge you:
Make little changes in your life too, and when you are surprised, pleased, or confused by something, share it with the rest of us!

When I published my last three posts, I was thrilled to immediately get a comment!
When I read the comments though, they said something like,
"Your blog rocks! If others share their ideas like this, the world will certainly be a better place!"

But then the next line..........
"come check out my blog, www.comevacationinHaiti.com"

Computer generated Spam!
So if you try to comment, you'll notice I have installed a verification process to try to eliminate spammers.
I'm sorry to make it more difficult, but I don't want my site taken over by mindless comments.


oleprairiedog said...

I have been doing this for a number of years, as you know, I am experienced in the care of folks with some dementia and alzheimers. I have even tried putting left handed and to my surprise it sometimes helps(depending on the break of course). I also try things like walking backwards from my office to the car. It gets you funny looks but it is a challenge.

Anonymous said...

RE, Switching hands, when my right hand began to hurt from using a computer mouse too much, I switched to my left hand. It was slow going at first, but after about 2 weeks it started to feel ok. Now, a couple years later, I can use either hand on the mouse with equal ease. Do I feel less senile? Sure! :) -Tom

Aviatrix said...

We're all doing the verification thing: that same spammer seems to have hit everyone, and annoyed everyone onto the same tactic.

I am definitely going to try your habit change suggestion.

medicmom said...


Sorry, I couldn't resist. HEH!!

After reading this post, I thought about my shower routine and had to laugh because I do it the same way every time. Maybe I could wash my feet first instead of my face. ;) Not! It is true though. We all do so many things on automatic pilot. I think I will create some new nerve pathways today. Hey, you can't fly that chopper backwards can you? LOL

Greybeard said...

Yes, as a matter of fact, you can! It's not safe though, because obviously you can't see where you're going!
But you'd be surprised at how fast most helos can fly backwards.....
The Comanche, (Army contract that was just canceled) could fly backwards at 70 m.p.h.!

Big Bubba said...

OK, I'll admit it. Last night before I went to bed I had my retainers in. I spent about 20 minutes trying to whistle.

Maybe got one toot out ...

Infinitegtr said...

I have multiple sclerosis, which from time to time renders the extremities on the right side of body somewhat useless. As a result, I have permanently switched my mouse to other side of computer, and reversed the buttons to reduce the wear and tear on right hand. It really screws people up, and some think I ma left handed now, but it does make a difference.

As an aside, there is nothing wrong with a morning routine. There has to be somthing consistent in the morning to put up with day to day crap at work. Besides, I find that the morning police chases as I scream through traffic, slide around dirt roads, and jump small creeks seems to shake the day up just fine...

denicave said...

I must be ahead of the game :p) I NEVER do the same thing in my shower. I thought that meant I was truly a blonde! Sometimes I forget to wash something (face, hair, etc.) and have to get back in.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info; it makes sense. Starting tonight I'm going to attempt to put my false teeth in with my feet.

Greybeard said...


Be careful of "Foot 'n Mouth" disease though!

Update us on how it turns out! ;>)

christine said...

I can't do the visit my blog thing - you already have. However I would like to comment on this post in particular . How many of us actually get to work or the supermarket or wherever and can't actually remember the journey. I can't say that i do things wiht the wrong hand but i do try to vary activities , routes and read the newspapers and watch tv news progammes.Whatever your view you will find something to stimulate you , and of course blogging again whatever your view sharpens you neural pathways as you have to actually come up with the argument or point or whatever.