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Old April 15, 2013, 09:25 AM   #1
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Question about gun safety and mental deterioration with age

Got a question for anyone familiar with mental deterioration with age.
And older fellow at our club, in his late seventies, is having some difficulties with his semi autos.
Kind of brain farts with the safeties, loading, unloading, the sort of the things new shooters do.
But he's very experienced with them and was, at one time, one of the best shooters at the club matches.
No problem with his repeaters, revolvers, bolt, lever and pump actions, though.
His skills with the repeaters came at an earlier age than the semi autos.
He said that he didn't really get into semis until much later in life.
He has reluctantly put the semis aside and has gone back to the repeaters.
And he's much more comfortable and safer to be around.
So, the question is:
Are his skills with the repeaters better because he acquired them earlier in life, or because they are simpler to operate and understand?
Do the things we learn and know from our earlier years stay with us longer as we get older?
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”

Last edited by g.willikers; April 15, 2013 at 09:31 AM.
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Old April 15, 2013, 09:32 AM   #2
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My mother in law lived with my wife and me for the last ten years of her life. As her mind deteriorated she could not remember three random words and repeat them back after being shown a picture of a puppy dog...or draw an analog clock to show 10:15 (all the numbers 1 through 12 were bunched up from the 1 to 3 oclock positions). But she could remember the name, address and which bus/train to take to visit every member of her Philadelphia Italian family. She could remember every city and country she visited during her time as a 20-something-year-old hairdresser on the SS United States during the 1950's.
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Old April 15, 2013, 09:42 AM   #3
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As a (really roughly approximated) rule of thumb on aging and memory:

"First learned, last lost."

Tempered even more, of course, with a large dose of wildly individual variation.

Show me the data
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Old April 15, 2013, 09:48 AM   #4
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Thanks for the rapid replies.
So, is the same thing in store for us older guys, who grew up with revolvers and repeating long guns, long before learning to use semi autos?
Might be something to ponder.
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”
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Old April 15, 2013, 10:24 AM   #5
Evan Thomas
Join Date: July 7, 2008
Location: Upper midwest
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Originally Posted by g.willikers
Do the things we learn and know from our earlier years stay with us longer as we get older?
Well, in general, yes.

But the kind of mental deterioration you're describing isn't something that happens automatically as part of the aging process. It's a symptom of some underlying condition: Alzheimer's, a stroke, changes related to alcohol consumption... quite a few other possibilities.

So it's not something to fear as inevitable, but it's good to be aware of the possibility, and to seek medical attention if you think something's amiss. A friend did this last year after she ran a couple of stop lights, had a couple of other "brain farts." She talked to her doc, who referred her to a neurologist and a shrink. They found she was a teeny bit impaired (likely the result of a concussion and aftereffects of general anesthesia she'd had a few months back). Put her on some meds, suggested some changes in her diet... several months later, she's fine.

Lesson: be aware of any changes (and listen to friends and family if they're concerned), and don't be afraid to go to the doctor.
Never let anything mechanical know you're in a hurry.
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Old April 15, 2013, 01:39 PM   #6
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I give the gentleman credit for being aware enough to recognize the lapses and to set aside the semi-autos. Many people either wouldn't notice the oopses, or wouldn't be willing to admit to them and take positive action in response thereto.

As has been commented, these types of lapses are not guaranteed for everyone. They are symptoms of Alzheimers, adult dementia, stroke (or mini-stroke, which often goes unnoticed and undiagnosed). Not everyone has such problems. My grandfather died at the age of 84. He voluntarily stopped driving several years before that, not because of any problems or accidents or near-misses, but because he had always been an excellent driver, and when slowing reflexes reduced him to being merely a "good" driver he felt it was time to fold up his tent. He maintained his driver's license and kept the car in the garage in the event of an emergency, but he didn't drive.

His son (my uncle) lived longer, but for a number of years was a menace to society because he DID have lapses, and he was involved in a number of fender-benders. Naturally, he ascribed them all to the other driver, but a clear pattern emerged. The problem was, my uncle was not as responsible or as self-aware as his father, so he refused to stop driving. He kept at it right up until a few months before his death, when he finally became physically unable to drive.

Each person and each case is unique.
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