M: Is this a good thing, do you think?
W: I think that it’s an excellent arrangement. We all like to keep part of our lives private, even from those we love dearly.
I certainly don’t think that it’s a sign of the increased loneliness of old age.
M: Are people’s mental abilities affected by old age?
W: Certain changes do take place as we grow older, but this happens throughout life.
These changes are very gradual and happen at different times with different people,
but, in general, if you know a person well in his middle age and have seen how he deals with events and problems, you will easily recognize him in old age.
M: So that someone who enjoys new experiences, travel, education, and so on in his middle years will usually continue to do so into old age?
W: Exactly. We have carried out some very interesting experiments in which a group of people aged 60-70 and a group aged 30-40 had to learn the same things.
The first thing we discovered was that the young group tends to be quicker at learning than the old group.
However, although the old group took longer to learn, eventually, they performed as well as the young group.
And when we tested the two groups several weeks later, there was again no difference between the two groups.
M: That’s very interesting indeed. What else did your experiments show?
W: Well, one group of old people agreed to attend evening classes for a year to study English and mathematics.
In fact, most of this group became so interested in their studies that they continued them for another year.
Anyway, we discovered that they did best in the English classes and that most of them steadily improved their ability to communicate in both the written and the spoken language.
M: What about the group who studied mathematics?
W: Well, that’s a different story. There seems to be no doubt that people find maths more difficult as they grow older. Though, why this is so, I cannot say.
M: Perhaps pocket calculators will solve this problem.
W: I think you’re right. In fact, I’m sure that you are.
M: Okay. Time for a commercial. Stay tuned; we’ll be right back.