of excuses and reasons and cognitive ability

My last post was about how my mother lowered the complexity of what she read, and altogether stopped reading books and novels. I wondered whether this was a contributory factor in her cognitive decline, or an outcome of that condition.

This reminded me of my reading habits. I love reading, and devour books of any sort. But, come to think of it, I don’t always read attentively. Often, in my eagerness to finish a book, I skip through the descriptions, or paragraphs that seem long and don’t have any dialog (I read the first few sentences, skim the rest, and read the last sentence.  I consider that to be a choice for optimizing reading time and amount I can read; I do not consider it laziness.

Of late, I wonder whether would I be able to stay attentive and read those dense paragraphs if I wanted/ needed to.

The reason I started thinking about this is a remark of my son. His reading interests are very different from mine, and he often sends me links to TED talks and to articles on the topics that fascinate him. A day or two after he e-mails them/ mentions them on chat, he will ask me – have you read it? What did you think? Sometimes I read what he sends me, and sometimes, especially when the article is dense and long and about a topic that is of no prima-facie interest to me, I do not read it.

Once, when he asked me why I hadn’t read an article, I told him it was very long. And he said, “You shouldn’t lose the ability to read long articles.” His words struck me hard, and I started thinking – when I avoid reading long articles or dense descriptions, am I ‘optimizing’ my time, or am I just avoiding something I find tough and rationalizing my reduced span of attention?

I still haven’t read the article that prompted my son to say that sentence, and I have (conveniently?) forgotten where I saved the link, but perhaps next time he sends me a link, I’ll grit my teeth and labor through it just to make sure my mental gears haven’t rusted. And if they have, I guess I’d better start oiling them and getting them functional again…

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About Swapna Kishore
I'm a writer, blogger, and resource person for dementia/ caregiving in India. I have also been a dementia caregiver for well over a decade, and am deeply concerned about dementia care in India; on this blog I share my personal caregiving journey, my experiences as a resource person for dementia care, and musings on life, aging, dementia in India, and such sundries. More about me and the work I do for dementia care. For structured information on dementia, for discussions, tools and tips on caregiving issues, for resources in India, and for caregiver interviews, please check my website http://dementiacarenotes.in (or its Hindi version, http://dementiahindi.com). For videos on dementia caregiving (English and Hindi), check the youtube channel here.

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