By On July 18th, 2013

Octagenarians are Mentally Sharper Than Even Before

Elderly ManLife at 90 isn’t as bad as it used to be as those who live past the octogenarian benchmark are living longer and staying mentally sharper than those who reached that age a decade earlier. According to Danish researchers, people born in 1915 are nearly a third more likely to reach the age of 95 than those born around 1905, and they performed better on mental tests and at taking care of daily tasks.

The findings, published in the medical journal Lancet, contribute to the steadily growing evidence that improved nutrition, vaccinations, health care, and intellectual stimulation are contributing to better quality of life for the elderly. The study also suggests that the care needs of elderly people may be less than currently anticipated, especially if the trend continues.

“There’s a fear that getting older means many years of living in bad shape with a rather gloomy outlook,” Kaare Christensen, the lead study researcher from the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m looking forward to living longer than 90 myself after this study.”

The significant improvement compared to those in the past goes against medical preconceptions that relied on the idea that there will be a distinct rise in dementia in those over the age of 80. Indeed, it paints an entirely different picture of aging than previously. As Marcel Olde Rikkert from Radboud University commented on the study, “It’s not being old and decrepit at 90; it’s being old and active.”

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