24 October 2010

New Crop of Elderly Outsmart Their Predecessors

Scientific American

A Swedish study finds that 70-year-olds in 2000 did better on intelligence tests than 70-year-olds had done in 1971.

If 50 is the new 40 and 60 is the new 50, what’s the new 70? Well, it seems safe to at least say that 70 isn’t what it used to be. And that’s good. Because a new study finds that 70-year-olds did better on intelligence tests than 70 year olds used to do. In Sweden, anyway. The research was published in the journal Neurology. [Simona Sacuiu et al, Secular changes in cognitive predictors of dementia and mortality in 70-year-olds]

The study compared a group of people born in 1901 and 1902 and tested in 1971 with another group born in 1930 and tested in 2000. And the newer crop of 70 years old performed far better than the previous generation did.

The researchers say the newer seniors had numerous advantages. They had better pre and postnatal care than their predecessors. They also had better nutrition, a higher quality education, and better treatment of high blood pressure and cholesterol. And, the researchers say, today’s high-tech life also helps keep you sharp. Because all of those factors come into play in many other parts of the world, there’s reason to be optimistic that it’s not just old Swedes who are smarter.

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