Present day elderly possess better cognitive faculties: Study

Records suggest that we are better of economically than our ancestors. If anybody wanted proof that we are also mentally better off than our predecessors, here’s one.

Findings of a new study, which may be a reason to rejoice for the elderly throughout the world, suggest that today’s ageing population is mentally sharper as compared to its precursors.

Research Methodology
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the Danish Aging Research Center at the country’s Institute of Public Health examined close to 4,000 people in their 90s. This set of population was identified by the Danish Civil Register System. The researchers did not exclude any set of population; thus people were analyzed irrespective of whether they lived in the community or in assisted living or in institutional care.

The study participants were divided into two groups; one group born in 1905 and the other born ten years later 1915. The first group was assessed at age 93 while the second was studied at age 95.

The analysis revealed that the latter group, despite being two years older at the time of assessment, was nearly twice as likely to attain the highest score on a basic cognitive function test as compared to their counterparts born a decade earlier.

“Not only are more people living to a higher age, they are also doing so in better shape, at least in Denmark,” lead author Kaare Christensen said of the study findings.

Flynn effect
Increased longevity in recent generations can be attributed to two aspects; one, people live longer because they are healthier and two, they have an enhanced lifespan because they receive latest medical support.

The findings of the latest study corroborate earlier findings that suggest that with passage of time, the subsequent generations have witnessed an overall rise in IQ. The present generation of nonagenarians too may have thus benefitted from this trend.

This general improvement, named after the person who identified it is known as the ‘Flynn effect.’ Numerous factors are responsible for the Flynn effect including better nutrition, to more schooling and overall better health.

“There’s no magic bullet to explain all of the difference. It’s likely to be a combination of improvements in living conditions over course of life, including greater intellectual stimulation early on, said Christensen.

The findings have been published in journal Lancet.

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