Aging like a monkey

Sock monkey I made

I don’t usually write about — or even admit to — aging as it affects me, but after reading an article in the New York Times, “What Old Monkeys and Old Humans Have in Common,” I think it’s time we talked about getting old, and what we can expect as far as behavior changes specific to aging. Researchers are studying Barbary macaque monkeys in retirement (about age 20). From their work, we can see what we might become if we haven’t already become it.

Monkeys and humans get pickier as they get older and less interested in trying new things. Humans might eat at the same restaurant again and again. We might create schedules that call for doing certain things on particular days, for example, dine out on Wednesdays, go grocery shopping on Fridays, and clean the house on Sundays. We might get cranky around strangers (I’m assuming this means that we’ve already gotten cranky around our loved ones and have just extended this to strangers later in life).

Monkeys and humans tend to socialize less as they get older.  Monkeys pay attention to what’s going on around them, “but they don’t want to participate themselves.” Some days humans don’t feel like socializing, and map out a day around  watching TV…alone. Both humans and monkeys tend to take fewer risks as they age.

We humans are aware that we only have so much time left and prefer to spend it in the ways we choose.  No one attributes this awareness to monkeys, so researchers are looking for the roots of our common behaviors in biology. Meanwhile, if we want to know more about what to expect, we can hang out at the zoo and observe the monkey elders.


About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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4 Responses to Aging like a monkey

  1. I definitely do not have the patience I used to have. And crankiness is as good a word as any to describe it! So glad others are having those symptoms too!

  2. Shirley Shimada says:

    Will some people age in different ways? Just finished reading The Book of Joy, about lasting happiness recorded during a one week visit between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama by Douglas Abrams. The two eighty-year olds seem to be have found sources of joy in their respective spiritual paths …

  3. dkzody says:

    Early in the day I am an extrovert and enthusiastic about life. After 3 pm, forget it. I want to just sit and observe. I’m not inclined to talk to people late in the day. I seldom go out now after 4 pm unless forced to do so. Good think this has happened after I retired. When teaching I had many required evening engagements.

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