Scientific American January 2021 pp24 |THE SCIENCE OF HEALTH| “IS 70 Really the New 60?” “People are ageing better in many ways but not across the board” by Claudia Wallis
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Summary of the Article
As it turns our older people today as published in several peer-reviewed studies are living healthier and long lives likely due to more education and all that follows on being more knowledgeable-higher income including better health care, less smoking, being more physically active, having bigger bodies resulting from access to better nutrition.
The most recent and carefully controlled study from Finland proved that the later-born group could walk faster, exert more force with their lower leg and had better verbal fluency, faster reaction time and “scored higher on a test matching numbers to symbols.” Interestingly though “not everything changed” as lung function were surprisingly static, and there was no improvement in the short-term-memory.” A Dutch study in 2018 and a Danish study in 2013 reported similar findings on which the Finnish study has further detailed.
Experts suggest some rationale for these findings of better ageing such as “improved medical care and a drop in smoking”…[being] more physically active and had bigger bodies, which suggests better nutrition.” Higher “brain function, the key seems to be more years of education.” Normalizing, or controlling for education removes “cognitive differences.” Education leads to higher wages, better nutrition, better healthcare and “[having] a job that is not eviscerating your body.”
In Finland and Denmark these improvements are “equally distributed” but not so in America as “the average life span is seven years shorter in a poor state such as Mississippi” as compared to “a wealthier [state] such as California.” If you don’t have good financial resources you can’t pay for medications and have access to better education, nutrition and exercise.