Is 90 the new 90?
Today’s 90-year-olds may have sharper mental abilities than those who were in their 90s ten years ago, says a Danish study. The findings were published earlier this month in the journal Lancet.
In a statement, study leader Kaare Christensen of the University of Denmark said the research “challenges speculations that the improving longevity is the result of the survival of very frail and disabled elderly people.”
Researchers gave physical and mental challenges to Danes who were born in 1905 or 1915. The groups were tested on their ability to remember key information and to carry out daily tasks. They were also evaluated for depression and overall mental health.
Twenty-three percent of those born in 1915 had better scores than their counterparts born a decade earlier. Additionally, those born in 1915 had a 32 percent better chance to make it to their 90s.
Exactly why the 1915 group fared better isn’t entirely clear, but study leaders speculate that healthier diets and more intellectual stimulation may account for the difference.
This positive news for seniors comes on the heels of other recent studies that found bright spots for older persons.
French researchers said that those who postpone retirement have a reduced risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The study evaluated the health records of nearly half a million French citizens, making it one of the largest studies ever conducted on the topic.
Additionally, researchers at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health led a study of more than 7,600 people 65 and older and found rates of dementia fell 25 percent over the past 20 years, to 6.2 percent from 8.3 percent. Study leaders say those with more education were better able to compensate for the changes in the brain associated with dementia.
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