Retirement Redesigned

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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

HomeMonday DeadlineFeed your brain

Feed your brain

Retirement Diaries #5

We have had misconceptions and wrong theories about how the brain works for many years. A widely held belief was that the brain stops learning around late adolescence and that no matter how much you tried, that fading out of brain growth was permanent.

This belief was for a long time used to explain how older people became less competent and that younger people were somehow smarter and had better working minds.

All this has now been disproved. More recent research has discovered that every brain has what is known as neuroplasticity. This is the built-in ability to grow itself and to expand its learning capability. Neuroplasticity develops from chemical, structural and functional elements. The chemical signals stimulate short term memory, the structural connections build long-term memory and the functional one operates when the brain becomes excitable, for instance when new learning takes place.

How is neuroplasticity built? Ike much else in our lives, by exercise! If you stimulate your brain by learning new facts or acquiring a new skill, or reading often, the brain responds to this exercise by adapting and developing its neuroplastic capacity.

The lesson for retirees is to feed the brain with being curious, alert, motivated to learn, and open to new experience. Becoming increasingly passive and disinterested into old age can destroy the brain’s natural neuroplasticity.

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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.


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