Aged 65 with the memory of a 25-year-old
NEUROLOGIST Marcel Mesulan coined the term 'Superager' to describe those whose memory and attention aren't merely above average for their age, but is actually on a par with healthy, active 25-year-olds.
Perhaps not surprisingly, superageing is the new quest for many oldies.
You probably know someone over the age of 65 or older who is not experiencing any mental difficulties often associated with old age. So, superageing helps to explain why some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital studied the brains of identified superagers with others of the same age. The research is fascinating and its description will take up more words than I have available to me. Suffice it to say, superageing involves our brain and how we choose to use it.
So, how can we become superagers?
The road to superageing requires us to work hard at something.
Critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks - mental or physical - through vigourous exercise and bouts of strenuous mental effort.
You may have experienced this through exercises and activities such as swimming, tournament bridge, learning a foreign language, taking an online course, mastering a musical instrument, and so on. (Generally, Sudoku and other 'brain games' don't qualify because they're too pleasant and don't require us to have to push ourselves.)
When there's increased activity, we tend to feel pretty wrung out, tired, and frustrated.
Think, for example, about the last time you grappled with a problem or pushed yourself to your physical limits. We have to push past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort - do it till it hurts and then a bit more. Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain. A sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention are just two of the positive side effects.
Go on, push yourself! Take up the challenge! Work the brain!