Have you heard of the term “super-ager?” It’s a newer term used to describe older adults whose cognitive abilities are on par with people who are decades younger.
Of the general population, approximately one-third of those over the age of 90 have dementia, and another third have some form of cognitive decline. So it is with great interest that the science community has been researching super-agers and their episodic memory – the memory of autobiographical events such as times, places and associated emotions (who, what, when, where and why) that can be explicitly stated or conjured.
A number of new studies have been looking at people who live well as they age, often into their 90’s and beyond. What these studies have found may be surprising; how we age has less to do with genetics than originally thought. In fact, it is how we live both physically and socially that may make the greatest impact.
Now, the question becomes what are the factors that make you most likely to become a super-ager?
Socialize. The number one factor for aging well has been found time and again in recent studies, and that is social interaction. Those who live well into their golden years maintain close relationships. These relationships foster emotional, mental, and physical health. This is because friendship is cognitively stimulating while encouraging you to get out and about in your community.
Exercise. Not surprisingly, regular exercise is another factor in becoming a super-ager. Getting as little as 15 minutes of exercise a day has a positive impact when it comes to longevity, and the benefits increase with 30 to 45 minutes per day. However, researchers noted there were no significant benefits reached beyond the 45-minute mark.
Engage in a hobby. Those who engage in a hobby for an hour or so a day are much more likely to age well than those who don’t. So feel free to indulge in your favourite pastime since it’s also good for your overall wellbeing. If you don’t already have a hobby, take some classes, get out in the garden or join a book club, keep trying new things until you find what piques your interest.
Alcohol and caffeine in moderation. According to the 90+ Study modest caffeine and alcohol intake were positively correlated with aging well, with the sweet spot for caffeine consumption being 200-400 milligrams a day (about 2 cups). As for alcohol, they have no explanation for it, but those that drank a glass or two of wine or beer a day were likely to live longer.
Live your best life by nurturing friendships and making time to do the things you love. And if you really want to age well, I suggest combining exercise, hobbies and beverage consumption with socializing. After all, those things are always better when done with friends.
Written by Christine Tompa for Amintro, the social app for those fifty plus.