What did the painter Grandma Moses and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg have in common? They were both “super-agers,” a term that geriatric specialists have been throwing around since 2016.
What’s a super-ager?
The super-agers defy old age. They retain the mental aptitude and quickness of people in their twenties. In one study, a few people between the ages of sixty and eighty heard a list of sixteen words repeated a few times, and, a few minutes later, they were able to play back fourteen of them. Their memories, in other words, were just as sharp as the memory of a thirty-year-old.
But it doesn’t necessarily stop there. There are also physical super-agers who, at eighty or older, can keep up in a race with an average twenty-year old. They have a lung and heart function that astounds elderly care experts.
How do they do it?
The secret to staying in excellent shape, well into your eighties, is not really a mystery. It’s a matter of exercising every day or at least three times a week and getting the heart really pumping for about forty minutes at a time.
A heart monitor can tell you whether you are exercising at the rate that elderly care experts recommend. But an easier measure is whether you find talking difficult during your exercise routine. If you would struggle to conduct a conversation, you’re probably working out hard enough.
How to be a cognitive super-ager
The brain scans of the super-agers show a number of interesting things. They haven’t killed off as many brain cells as their peers. Specifically, the regions of the brain that control emotion are still firing on all cylinders and not thinning as they are in the brains of less fortunate oldsters.
How can you and your parents keep a brain like that? The answer seems to be: Really lean into challenges. Serious challenges. We’re not talking about a nice easy sudoku puzzle book. We’re talking about the New York Times crossword. Or learning Russian. Or entering competitions.
Super-aging, as Bette Davis would say, is not for sissies. It’s for people who are willing to push past their comfort zones, physical as well as mental. If your mother or father wants to learn coding, you should encourage it. If she wants to take advanced water aerobics, encourage that too.
Super-agers, too, can benefit from home care
Over the next decade, home care will help millions of baby boomers age in place. But that won’t be enough for all of them. Home care will also help boomers push past their limits, get to the tough classes they want to take, learn difficult new technology, and remain in touch with friends who will make them play chess and read James Joyce.
By taking over some of the routine household chores, like groceries and cleaning, home care professionals can free super-agers up to pursue the tough mental and physical challenges they will need to conquer, so as to have an optimal old age.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Elderly Care in Pembroke Pines, FL please contact the caring staff at Specialized Nursing Services today. (305) 652-2799.