Better overall health: 65-year-olds fitter today than the previous generation

Better overall health: 65-year-olds fitter today than the previous generation

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Today 65-year-olds are significantly fitter than the previous generation

Not only are people in Germany getting older, they also stay fit and healthy longer. According to a current study, 65-year-olds are now physically and mentally better than those of the previous generation. In addition, the generation of baby boomers shows greater life satisfaction.

Today's seniors are physically and mentally fitter

Germans' life expectancy is increasing and increasing. Not everyone is allowed to stay fit and healthy into old age, but many seniors are now physically and mentally fitter than their peers in the past decades. This can also be seen in the results of a study by Heidelberg University.

Better overall health

Those in their mid-60s not only feel younger, they also generally have better overall health than their peers twenty years ago - and there is also greater life satisfaction.

This is one of the current results of the interdisciplinary longitudinal study of adulthood (ILSE), which was started in 1993 at the Institute for Gerontology at Heidelberg University, reports the university in a message.

The current wave of investigations as part of the study has now been completed. Researchers from Heidelberg University Hospital and Leipzig University were also involved.

Very broad basis of health parameters

One of the special features of the long-term study is that the participants belong to two different generations - those born in 1930 to 1932 and 1950 to 1952. This way, their paths into old age can be followed in parallel and comparisons made.

The study is based on a very broad basis of health parameters. In addition to biographical, psychological and psychiatric aspects, this also includes medical and dental aspects.

The researchers also collected data on the participants' sensory performance and everyday skills.

Personal attitude towards aging

"We have found that mild cognitive impairments as a risk syndrome for Alzheimer's dementia are currently less common than in peers twenty years ago," explained Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Wahl from the Psychological Institute of Heidelberg University.

"An improvement in neuropsychological performance can also be observed - an effect that indicates an overall better overall health status," said the expert.

“The results show that the 65-year-olds are doing better physically and mentally. Historically, there has never been such a good condition at this age, ”emphasized Prof. Johannes Schröder, head of gerontopsychiatric research at Heidelberg University Hospital.

According to Hans-Werner Wahl, the generation of the so-called baby boomers gets what they need with a completely different goal-orientation than the previous generation.

According to the psychologist, this is not least due to personal attitudes towards aging, which go hand in hand with greater life satisfaction. The study also confirms the important role of social relationships for "good aging".

Improve quality of life in middle and older age

The findings of the interdisciplinary longitudinal study serve to better understand aging.

But scientists are also certain that they are of far-reaching importance for the development of preventive measures that improve the quality of life in middle and older adults and can prevent gerontopsychiatric diseases.

"The ILSE data underline that lifelong built-up cognitive reserves and physical activity are particularly relevant when mental and functional losses occur in older age," said Dr. Christine Sattler from the Psychological Institute.

"A stimulating and active lifestyle early in life therefore pays off late in a way," says the expert. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: NHGRIs Oral History Collection: Interview with Eric Lander (July 2022).


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