22 September 2020

The elderly have become younger

The functional abilities of older people have become better than those of people of the same age three decades ago. This was observed in a study conducted at the Faculty of Sports and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The study compared the physical and mental abilities of people aged 75 to 80 years with those of people of the same age in the 1990s. Measurements show how older people cope with everyday life, and at the same time reflect their functional age.

Among men and women aged 75 to 80 years, muscle strength, walking speed, reaction speed, fluency of speech, logic and working memory are now significantly better than in people of the same age who were born 30 years earlier. However, there were no differences between the cohorts in the assessment of lung function.

Higher physical activity and larger body sizes explained better walking speed and muscle strength among the cohort born later, and the most important factor underlying the differences in cognitive performance was better education.

In other words, people who are now 75-80 years old have grown up and live in a different world, unlike their peers who were born three decades ago. There have been many favorable changes. These include improving nutrition and hygiene, improving health care and the education system, increasing access to education and improving working conditions.

The results show that the increase in life expectancy is accompanied by an increase in the number of years lived with preserved functions and independence at a later age. This can be explained by a slower rate of age-related changes, a higher maximum of physical performance over a lifetime, or a combination of these two factors.

This work is unique in that there are only a few studies in the world that compared the indicators of people of the same age at different historical times. The results show that the existing understanding of senile age is outdated: with an increase in life expectancy, years are added more to middle age, rather than to the end of life. On the other hand, the last years of life fall on an increasingly older age, which increases the need for care. Two changes are taking place simultaneously among the aging population: the continuation of healthy years of life towards an older age and an increase in the number of very old people in need of help and care.

Articles by K.Koivunen et al. Cohort differences in maximal physical performance: a comparison of 75- and 80-year-old men and women born 28 years apart published in the journal The Journals of Gerontology; M.Munukka et al. Birth cohort differences in cognitive performance in 75- and 80-Year-Olds - A comparison of two cohorts over 28 years – in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research.

Aminat Adzhieva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru according to the materials of the University of Jyväskylä: Older people have become younger: physical and cognitive function have improved significantly in 30 years.

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