90-Plus Living Longer and Smarter

August 17, 2013
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aging and healthThose surviving past the age of 90 today are living longer and are mentally sharper than those born a decade earlier. A Danish study has shown that people born in 1915 were almost a third more likely to reach 95 than those born a decade earlier and on average they performed better on mental tests and in daily living tasks.

aging and healthThose surviving past the age of 90 today are living longer and are mentally sharper than those born a decade earlier. A Danish study has shown that people born in 1915 were almost a third more likely to reach 95 than those born a decade earlier and on average they performed better on mental tests and in daily living tasks. Improved mental ability at a very old age goes against expectations that there will be a sharp rise in dementia among people over 80.

Researchers speculate that, should the trend continue, the care needs of very elderly people may be less than now anticipated. And they further speculate that improved health care is one reason for this trend. The number of people living to 90 or older more than doubled in the U.S. from 720,000 in 1980 to 1.5 million in 2010 and may swell to 9 million by 2050, according to a 2011 report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

The Danish study is the most conclusive evidence yet that the elderly may be in better health than ever. In Denmark, the chance of living beyond 90 has increased by 30 percent per decade for people born in 1895, 1905 and 1915, the authors said, citing the Human Mortality Database

Sources: ALFA and Bloomberg News