The Benefits of a “Reverse Mortgage-Age” Mind
When people talk about “having a senior moment” it’s decidedly unfunny — especially if you’re the one who went to the basement and now can’t recall why. But the surprisingly good news? Our brains are more fertile and resilient than once believed — in fact, they actually peak in performance sometime in midlife, which most researchers define as anywhere from ages 40 to 68.
In The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain, New York Times health and medical science editor Barbara Strauch writes, “Middle age is a far more important time for our brains than anyone ever suspected. This is when paths diverge. What we do when we’re on Planet Middle Age determines what the next stop, Planet Old Age, will look like. At midlife, the brain is ‘on the cusp’. What we do matters, and even what we think matters.”
What does this mean for the “reverse mortgage-age” brain? While your prospects may have more trouble with name retrieval, and their brains may not perform at the same rate of speed they did when in their twenties, the brains’ owners are collectively happier, more adaptable to stress, and actually power up, not down, to solve problems.
This is especially handy in a crisis: remember 57-year-old pilot Chesley Sullenberger III, who made a successful emergency landing of a disabled jet on the Hudson River? Sullenberger was able to call up established patterns and connections built up in his brain over the decades. One reason everyone survived, reported an air safety investigation, was the middle-aged pilot and crew: “a testament to experience.”
We live in “a strangely schizophrenic world in terms of age,” confirms Strauch. “We tell people to get out of the way at 62, yet we’ve had a man running for U.S. president, arguably the toughest job around, at age 72. We send clear messages to women, in particular, that they’re past their prime in dozens of ways by their late fifties, and yet we have had a grandmother, at age 68, running the U.S. House of Representatives.”
The Thinking of Reverse Mortgage Clients
So when your reverse mortgage clients and prospects can’t recall a name, or are a bit slower to grasp new information, remember that this is a brain more focused on the positive than its younger counterparts, more integrated in terms of its experience, judgment, and yes, wisdom, and blessed with “cognitive reserve,” explains Strauch.
Cognitive reserve means that the more we feed our brains with education and mental enrichment, from reading to concerts to Chinese lessons (as well as nutrition and exercise), the more we build brainpower throughout the lifespan — even to the extent that a cognitively enriched brain is more protected against dementia, reveals Strauch.
And a robust, age-reversed brain can also exhibit greater interest in a reverse mortgage than one that’s in decline.