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Old Age Isn’t So Old Anymore

A new study confirms that boomers are changing what aging means

Boomers have always done things a little differently — including how they age. Bolstered by medical advances extending physical mobility and activity and the widened horizons brought on by the Internet era and social media connectivity, this generation is proving that getting older has never looked so good. 

A new German study released last week confirms that older adults can expect to age better than ever. On average, the study says, today's 75-year-olds are cognitively much fitter than the 75-year-olds of 20 years ago. Those involved in the study also reported higher levels of well-being and greater life satisfaction.

"The gains in cognitive functioning and well-being are considerable, and of great significance for life quality in old age," said Ulman Lindenberger, director of the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

The study was run by a team of researchers representing several major universities and research centers in Germany, including Lindenberger's. Its findings are based on data gathered from 708 adults aged 60 and over.

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To compare individuals from different generations, researchers relied on data from two consecutive aging studies and identified "statistical twins" whose age, education and diagnosed medical illnesses were similar. They then checked comparability by analyzing representative population data that has been gathered in Germany for 30 years.

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Researchers believe education, physical fitness and higher levels of independence in old age contributed to the changes they documented.

The study will be published soon in the scientific journal Psychology and Aging.

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