Getting older may look brighter than before as new research has found that those that are in their 90s are better off than people who were in their 90s a decade ago. Research published in the British medical journal The Lancet by a group out of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense assessed various parameters of mental agility in those who were in the decade preceding their century mark.
The first group consisted of 2262 people who were all born in 1905 and were living in 1998, between the ages of 92 and 93. The second group of 1584 people was born in 1915 and was between 94 and 95 years old in 2010.
The analysis consisted of a myriad of tests examining the physical status of the participants and their cognitive state. They were tested in fluency and recall, depression symptoms, the ability to carry out daily tasks.
The study found that those born in 1915 had a 32 percent better chance at reading the age of 95 and that they performed both physical and mental tests far better than those who were the same age but born a decade earlier. Additionally, a substantially higher proportion of the 1915 born group received the maximum scores on mental tests, even though they were older at the age of testing compared to the 1905 born group.
Now, to discount differing levels of education this was taken into account, because on average the 1915 group had attained higher average levels of education than the 1905 born group had. In women, who had the same level of education being born at both times, the results were did show a cognitive improvement from being born 10 years later.
According to the paper: "Even after adjusting for the increase in education between the 1905 and 1915 cohorts, the 1915 cohort still performed better in the cognitive measures, which suggests that changes in other factors such as nutrition, burden of infectious disease, work environment, intellectual stimulation, and general living conditions also play an important part in the improvement of cognitive functioning."
"Our results suggest that the functioning of people who reach their nineties is improving in Denmark, and increasing longevity associated with improved living conditions and healthcare may result in not just longer lives, but also that elderly are functioning better for longer than in earlier generations." said Professor Christensen, lead researcher on the study.
Mathematical prediction models have projected a sharp rise in the rates of dementia and Alzheimer's by the year 2050. A recent calculation had set the number of adults with Alzheimer's disease in the US to triple by mid-century to 13.8 million. While there is no cure or effective treatment for dementia, there are ways to push off its ability to take hold.
Research has shown that those who attain higher levels of education have far lower rates of dementia and are affected significantly less by Alzheimer's disease. It seems that constantly using your brain and challenging yourself in a type of "use it or lose it" can actually stave off the mental side effects of aging. Reading, completing brain teasers, crossword puzzles, keeping up with the news and engaging in conversation with others about interesting topics can all help keep one's mental state in excellent condition well into old age.