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Older people defying mental decline

11th July 2013
mentalhealthward1 The number of people living long into their 90’s is on the rise globally. However, little research has been done to understand the cognitive abilities of those surviving into very old age.

Research in Denmark, led by Prof Kaare Christensen, of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, surveyed all those born in 1905 who were still alive and living in Denmark in 1998. This included 3,600 people, all aged between 92-93.

The survey assessed their physical strength, mental functioning, ability to carry out daily living tasks such as walking outside, and also looked for any symptoms of depression.
Twelve years on, they repeated the study with people born in 1915. This included 2,509 people aged between 94-95.

The results shows that both men and women born in 1915 performed better than those born in 1905 in regards to cognitive ability and activities of daily living.

Prof Christensen said: "Our results show that the Danish cohort born in 1915 had better survival and scored significantly better on both the cognitive tests and the activities of daily living scale than the cohort born in 1905, despite being two years older at the time of assessment.

"This finding suggests that more people are living to older ages with better overall functioning."

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