19 July 2013
We are living longer and getting wiser
A Danish study has shown that not only are we living longer, but we are also living better quality lives than those just 10 years ago.
It is usually thought that a longer life brings with it ill health, however, this new study has proved otherwise. It looked at individuals born in 1905 and 1915 when they were in their mid-nineties. They took part in mental and physical tests designed to measure, among many other factors, memory and grip strength.
Those born in 1915 were two years older when tested but actually performed better.
It is believed that these changes are not just due to an improved education but down to factors such as better medical care, improved living conditions and a healthier diet.
Professor Christensen on of the researchers, from the University of South Denmark said, “The study challenges speculations that the improving longevity is the result of the survival of very frail and disabled elderly people. Our results suggest that the functioning of people who reach their 90s is improving in Denmark, and increasing longevity associated with improved living conditions and healthcare may result in not just longer lives, but also that the elderly are functioning better for longer than in earlier generations.”
Some of Professor Christensen’s colleagues from the Radboud University Medical Centre in Holland agreed saying, “The expectation of a continuing sharp rise in dementia prevalence in populations older than 80 or 90 years plays an important part in the alarming predictions about the future global burden of dementia. But the evidence for improved cognition at very old age provided by Christensen and colleagues challenges [this].”