Superagers

Connie Michaelis, Lifestyle Consultant at The Piper Assisted Living and Memory Support

An article by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, described a new designation for those Seniors over 80 that have amazing memories. They are now called Superagers. I love the title and will adopt it going forward. She says, “It’s pretty extraordinary for people in their 80s and 90s to keep the same sharp memory as someone several decades younger, and now scientists are peeking into the brains of these “superagers” to uncover their secret.” The work is the flip side of the disappointing hunt for new drugs to fight or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.  Neuroscientist Emily Rogalski, who leads the Superaging study at Northwestern University in Chicago, believes we should figure out what we can do to maximize our memory as we age.  It is accepted scientific fact that parts of our brains shrink as we age, even if we avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s.  However, these Superagers defy the norm and actually have more nerve cells in the deep brain region that are more import for attention.

Who are these Superagers? After a battery of tests, only 5% of the 1,000 initial participants, 80 or older, were designated.  The key memory challenge: Listen to 15 unrelated words, and a half-hour later recall at least nine. That’s the norm for 50-year-olds, but the average 80-year-old recalls five.  “It doesn’t mean you are smarter,” reports one participant who is 87 years old. The genetic theory was refuted because his own father developed Alzheimer’s in his 50s.  He offered his theory, which was the fact that he keeps busy, bikes, swims, and plays tennis.  And he maintains a very busy social schedule with friends.

Instead of focusing on what we might be losing, let’s turn our attention to Superaging!  Staying active, both physically and mentally, is the key ingredient!  Sitting alone in front of a TV set is the antitheses. Living in an environment where friends and activities are in close proximity is essential.  I leave you with 15 unrelated words: house, dog, apple, newspaper, child, grass, sun, ocean, moon, banana, tree, computer, book, leprechaun, golf.  See you in 30 minutes!   Call The Piper at 913.400.7006 for a conversation about Superaging!