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Where does the time go?

The Vancouver Sun sent this email to their subscribers on June 3, 2023.

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View this email in your browser INSPIRING CANADIANS TO LIVE BETTER W THE Weekender Saturday, June 3, 2023 There's a scientific reason that time feels like it's flying by, but it doesn't make aging any easier by Lisa Machado At the beginning of 2023, my mid-seventies neighbour put her house up for sale. She lost her husband a few years ago because of brain cancer — a gruelling eight months of caring for him as he lay in a hospital bed in the living room of the house they bought more than 40 years ago. Partly because of a housing market the experts said was cooling in the dead of winter, and partly because some repairs needed to be done, her and her adult children decided to take down the For Sale sign and try again in the spring. She was disappointed, but not much — she said that she wasn’t quite ready to leave yet. It’s now June, and once again, she has begun the process of cleaning up the yard, buying some fancy planters with explosively colourful blooms for the front porch and collecting boxes from local shops to pack up her belongings. For real, this time “My friends are dying,” she said sadly, as we watered our plants late one evening — the oppressive heat had begun to turn them brown. She had put the water jug she was holding — it was one of those old-school glass ones with the etching of a lemon on it — down at her feet for a moment. “I called my friend from back home today and she said that five people passed away this week. This week!” she said, leaning on the handrail of her porch with both hands. One of her nails were bruised purple. “It’s very scary.” We talked about what she would do in her new place. Did she plan to travel, I asked. I wondered if she would still plant vegetables, which she loved to do. She would be moving into a house just around the corner that her and her husband had bought years ago to rent. She shook her head slowly, describing how much smaller it was than her house now, and that there wasn’t really a place to plant anything, let alone cultivate a garden. “The time…” she said. “The time is going so fast, I can barely believe it.” I can certainly attest to that. I have a keen sense of the rate at which time is passing. I don't know how it is that I have a university-aged daughter and that soon, I will be buying sunscreen at Shoppers Drug Mart on Tuesdays to get the senior's discount. What? Then there's the anxiety-provoking stuff: the average Canadian lives to 82.9 years old, which means not a whole lot of years left of feet on this earth and sun on my face. Plus there's so much uncertainty about getting older: Will I be healthy? Will I be able to do all that I want to? Will I have enough money — and courage — to have adventures? The sense of time whipping by isn't just some weird psychological thing felt by those contemplating the latter half of their lives. It's actually a scientific phenomenon: how we perceive the speed of time is connected to how much life we have already lived and the new experiences we have had. In fact, a Cambridge University study showed that, basically, we measure time based on new memories, and new memories, in a way, slow the perception of time passing. There's a name for it: the Vacation Paradox. It's a theory made popular by psychologist Claudia Hammond that describes the sense we sometimes get when we look back on a fabulous trip that racked up a ton of cool memories. In hindsight, the time away always seems longer than it actually was. Use that lens to examine an aging life, and that where-did-the-time-go feeling makes perfect sense. Since many of us experience less new things as we get older, there are no new memories to metaphorically buffer — or even blur — the ticking of the clock, and thus, we get that unsettling 'time-is-flying' feeling. This is partly why we tend to think of our childhood as moving slower, Dr. Santosh Kesari, told NBC news. It's was a time when we were constantly learning and being exposed to new things.  But Kesari, who is a neurologist, neuro-oncologist, neuroscientist and chair of the Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, also points out that as kids, a year of life equals more time alive in terms of percentages, and thus, we remember time as being slower. “For a 10-year-old, one year is 10 percent of their lives,” he says. “For a 60-year-old, one year is less than two percent of their lives.” Eek, when you put it that way, it all sounds so, well, ominous. But we're not completely powerless to the feeling that it's all downhill from here. Although we can't actually slow time down — imagine if we could? — according to the experts, there are things we can do to spice things up and put a stake in the hands of time. “How can we stop that feeling of things going too fast, of missing out on our own lives? It comes back to learning new things,” neuroscientist Patricia Costello told NBC. “Are you learning a new skill? Are you cooking something different? Introducing novelty into your life when you can will make the memories stand out and stretch time in a way.” Being present in the moment and not multi-tasking, using your brain (think chess or checkers), daydreaming to rest an overstimulated brain and being intentional about making good memories are some other strategies to create the illusion of halting time. Still, while no one can argue that spacing out for a bit may be good for our brains, it doesn't get at the crux of why my neighbour is feeling blue. Yup, sure the years are passing fast, but it's what their passing means. Time is running out, and that is a certainty that no amount of chess can change. But assuming that we are lucky enough to have good health, physical mobility, and the financial means to live comfortably — all of which makes aging a bit easier to take — perhaps the key to getting better at getting older, embracing it even, is to plan ahead, consciously working to shape our later years now. In Forbes, Alex Zhavoronkov recommends "not letting our lives become too predictable and complacent." He advises us not to let our age define what we can and cannot do, that we should hang out with younger people and also build bonds with older people who look younger than their age — he calls them "mentors." What we're actually talking about is reframing what it means to get — and be — "old." Perhaps one day we'll get to the point where the seventies are the new twenties — a time when we start another phase of life that holds the promise of excitement, fun and growth, with the confidence that what comes next is going to be great. Is that even possible? It likely depends on who you are and what kind of life you have led.  Your health is important too, no question. Resources, also. And of course, we can't forget that while there are things you can control in your own little world as you age — friends, activities, chess — that's nothing compared to the challenges of getting older that are swirling just outside your front door. Ageism is very much alive and well. Still, perhaps we can start a revolution within our own little worlds by changing how we think about getting older and the difficult transitions that sometimes happen. When I passed my neighbour this morning in our laneway, she was in better spirits. She had changed her mind about the garden in her new place, deciding instead to make room for one. Plus, she was going to take some trips with her church group in the next few weeks. "I will have more time since I won't have all the work of this big house," she said, smiling. "It's going to be OK. This is the next step." *** Thanks for reading! Lisa Machado Executive Producer, Healthing.ca Send me a note at [email protected] ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Advertisement $ 2038200 QL R LIV T ASIN This week on Healthing * How I Care: My husband has frontotemporal dementia * Trial shows hope for treating aggressive brain cancer How I Care: 'Who would have known he would leave me so early?' Shannon Catellier’s husband Claude was just 57 when he as diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. By Maja Begovic I'm an image By the time the first lockdown was in place, the couple was left to navigate the progressive and incurable disease on their own, without social workers or any in-person respite support. The pandemic brought on a range of challenges, and the weight of the emotional, physical and financial difficulties made caregiving a more complicated and isolating experience for Shannon. Read more  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Advertisement $ 2038200 QL R LIV T ASIN I'm an image Glioblastoma: 'This type of cancer isn't fair' A University Health Network clinical trial is showing promise for people living with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. By the-vancouver-sun Hawthorne I'm an image Be a part of the Healthing community by commenting and sharing your thoughts The best way to navigate the complex world of healthcare is through open and constructive dialogue, and this new community is designed to make that happen. By the Healthing team :? A9 3 want to knovi your story. e ; - Lived experience is our passion. We believe that sharing the stories and experiences of Canadians navigating health challenges is the key to inspiring hope and celebrating resilience. It also offers hope, connection and insights that give others the power they need to take care of themselves and their loved ones. As we look ahead to 2023, help us tell these very important stories. Drop us a line at [email protected]. We'd love to hear from you. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT  * Céline Dion cancels all concerts till April 2024, citing illness * Memory lapses: What makes a person prone to forgetting a child in an overheated car? * Back pain expected to affect over 800 million people by 2050 * Food insecurity: A healthy diet costs a B.C. family $1,263 a month last year, says report * WATCH: Everything you need to know about staying safe from ticks and Lyme disease Was this newsletter forwarded to you? Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Advertisement $ 2038200 QL R LIV T ASIN FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn © 2023 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved. 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