Blaise Tapp: If only I had time to sit down and read to help keep old age at bay

Like many poor parents of school age children, I often don’t know if I’m coming or going. Mornings are a blur of multiple breakfast orders, missing socks and a race to the school gates.
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If I’m being honest, evenings aren’t much better and it’s usually past 9pm before we get a chance to switch the telly on to watch a repeat about car thieves in Doncaster.

It’s hardly a surprise then that I often forget what I’m meant to be doing and it’s not unusual for me to abandon menial domestic tasks halfway through because I’ve remembered something else which was even more urgent. The kids have become used to ‘well done’ dinners that have been left in the oven and I’ve lost count of how many clothes I’ve shrunk because I've forgotten to check the label. Again.I've also reached the age where I refer to most objects as 'doings' and I think that Girls Aloud are 'new music'. The kids tolerate it mostly and exploit my forgetfulness every opportunity they get although Mrs Tapp isn't anywhere near as patient.I am after all only 47 and am at least 25 years off worrying about doing the weekly shop in my slippers - or so I thought. According to research conducted by Irish neuroscientists, middle aged folk like me are susceptible to changes in our brain function, which, in some cases impacts memory and the ability to learn. It isn't all gloom and doom however because the same experts believe that those of us in our forties and fifties can stop any decline that may or may not be creeping in if we follow a number of steps.Things they recommend include eating more fibre, cutting down on meat and fatty foods as well as getting a decent amount of sleep as, apparently night owls like me are only storing up trouble for our old age if we insist on watching Newsnight to the very end.They also say that we need to build up our cognitive reserves, which we can do by engaging in stimulating pastimes such as crosswords and Sudoku, that are the mind's equivalent of lifting weights and doing press ups. The trouble is that I've never once completed a crossword as life is too short.Thankfully, reading and doing quizzes are also activities that are deemed to be good for strengthening the mind, which would be fantastic news if only I had the time to fit them in.

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