There’s at Least One Skill That Doesn’t Diminish as We Age

According to at least one researcher, language is the skill that always keeps on improving

As You Age, There's One Skill That Doesn’t Deteriorate 
Toni Morrison published her novel "God Help the Child" when she was 84. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The Stella Adler Studio of Acting)
By Evan Bleier / September 14, 2019 6:00 am

As we get older there are some skills — putting on weight, losing hair, falling asleep before the end of movies — that improve. But there are plenty of other skills that get much, much worse due to the deterioration of our senses, bodies and mental capabilities.

The one skill that doesn’t seem to deteriorate with age, according to researcher and psychologist Roger J. Kreuz?

“Age doesn’t seem to diminish our capacity to speak, write and learn new vocabulary,” he writes in a new piece for The Conversation. “Our eyesight may dim and our recall may falter, but, by comparison, our ability to produce and to comprehend language is well preserved into older adulthood.”

That claim is based on a number of findings, including the results of a study that found adults living in a retirement community near Chicago had an average vocabulary size of over 21,000 words. Their average vocabulary was more than 5,000 words larger than the average vocabularies of a nearby sample of college students.

The Conversation also mentions there are plenty of authors, including Toni Morrison (who published her novel God Help the Child when she was 84), who have continued to churn out important and relevant work into their 70s, 80s and even 90s.

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