My opinion: The fact that the quality of life for 90 year olds is going up with each decade clearly reflects our advancing society. The main question is, how, though? The article lists factors such as education and intellectual stimulation, but what else is going on? I think that healthier habits are starting to gain ground. After a dentist appointment today (I still have no cavities), my parents are as envious as ever of me (they have upward of 15 cavities each). Back in their day, it was more common to eat sugary foods, smoke, and not brush teeth. But frankly, many people do the same today, too. I think this study is somewhat flawed in that it tested the Danes, which are often said to be the happiest people on Earth. Health is very psychologically based, more than we currently realize. Stress and depression clearly have physiological consequences, but can they effect cognition and long-term health? I think these questions need to be answered until this research can be better applied toward other countries. Any other flaws or factors? Feel free to comment.
Want to live into your 90s? Your mind may have edge on people who hit age before you
Researchers found that on tests of mental abilities, a group of 95-year-old Danes scored better than a group of Danes born 10 years earlier, who had been tested when they were about the same age.
In a standard simple test, for example, 23 per cent of them scored in the highest category, compared to 13 per cent of the earlier-born group. Out of the 30 questions and tasks, members of the later-born group averaged two more correct responses than the earlier-born group did. The results were released Wednesday by the journal Lancet.
Why the better mental performance? It wasn't just better education, but beyond that the researchers could only guess at things like more intellectual stimulation and better diets earlier in life.
More people are living to such old ages. The U.S. census counted 425,000 Americans age 95 and older in 2010, a 26 per cent increase over the total in 2000.
The mental testing compared 1,814 elderly Danes examined in 1998 to the later-born group of 1,247 Danes tested in 2010. The researchers also found that later-born Danes were better able to carry out basic living tasks like getting out of bed or a chair. So they were functioning better overall, the study concluded.
Lead author Dr. Kaare Christensen, head of the Danish Aging Research Center at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, said he imagines that in the future, Danes who live into their 90s will continue to be better off than their predecessors. He was cautious about applying the results to the United States, although he said the availability of education in the U.S. after World War II would be a plus.