A superager is a person who is at least 80 years old and retains the memory skills and capacity of someone a minimum of 30 years younger. But their memory isn’t the only thing that sets them apart. Superagers are on the move, and they’re fast.
In 2008, The Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease coined the term “superagers.” Since then, several studies have been done looking in depth at this unique and enviable group.
Ask a Scientist
Scientists will tell you that a superager’s brain:
- Literally looks 30 years younger than their age when imaged.
- Does not atrophy or shrink as is typical for their age group, losing only 1.06% of their brain volume each year as compared to the average of 2.24%.
- Has higher than average levels of Von Economo neurons which allow rapid communication across large brains such as humans.
- Has fibers that do not get tangled in the ways that are markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, Ask a Superager
But how does that translate for the non-scientist? According to a recent study conducted at the Queen Sofia Foundation Alzheimer Centre in Spain, these superagers not only have sharp memories, but they move faster than normal, having superior mobility, agility, and balance.
Additionally, they have lower rates of anxiety and depression, greater independence, and superior performance on intelligence tests.
The Big Picture
MRI scans showed that the study group had more gray matter in the brain regions involving memory and movement. This gray matter also degenerated more slowly over a period of five years than their counterparts.
While scientists don’t understand the actual reasons for superagers’ unique processes, they are excited about the link between superaging and movement speed. However, further study is needed to learn how to preserve memory into super old age.
It is interesting to note that human beings have been studying the brain for centuries, yet it is still referred to as the “next frontier.” The earliest known reference to the brain occurs in the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, written in the 17th century BC. In it, the hieroglyph for brain appears eight times, describing the symptoms, diagnosis, and prognosis of two patients who were wounded in the head.
Adapt and Serve
It was only in 2015, that a study done by MIT neuroscientists found that different parts of the brain work better at different ages.
After age 18 or 19, the speed at which we can process information begins to decline.
Our short-term memory continues to improve until we turn 25 at which point it levels off until around age 35, then begins to drop.
It isn’t until our 40s or 50s that our ability to evaluate other people’s emotional states peaks.
The MIT neuroscientists also found that our belief that crystalized intelligence (the accumulation of facts and knowledge) peaked in the late 40s was wrong. Tests determined that peak happens in the late 60s or early 70s.
The good news is, the brain adapts and has the ability to serve us throughout our lifetime, until our last breath. And there is much more for us to learn about its workings.
Scientists Agree on 100 Year Lifestyle
Superager or not, if you want to keep your mind sharp and your body functioning at 100% for 100 years or more, then the scientists agree, living The 100 Year Lifestyle is for you. Their advice is to:
Luckily, all the information you need to live your 100 Year Lifestyle, and increase your chances of becoming a superager, can be found on The 100 Year Lifestyle website. If you could use some more help, there’s a 100 Year Lifestyle Provider near you. They’re ready to help you on your journey of a lifetime!