Today I read a New York Times Magazine article, “Old Masters, after 80, some people don’t retire. They reign.” Another of the many recent news videos, YouTube or Facebook posts about the power of people over 80 and in fact, over 100 performing feats previously assumed were impossible at “that” age.
We are living longer due to better medical, food and activity, however, I believe the main reason people are living life fully all the way to the end is the recent shift in “aging” consciousness, supported with the documentation of brain studies. We now know we are capable of creating new neuron pathways in our brain until the end if we continue to grow, learn, interact, eat well and exercise.
SuperAgers (80 plus) being studied at Northwestern University in Chicago have more brain matter in areas that was once thought to naturally decrease due to aging. These studies are focused on “what’s goes right” in the aging brain of those who still have terrific memories. In fact, whose memories are as sharp as people 20-30 years younger.
The cortexes of SuperAgers astounded researchers. The outer layer of the brain is important for memory, attention and other thinking abilities. The SuperAger cortexes were much thicker than the cortex of the normal group of 80 plus and closely resembled the cortex size of participates ages 50-65.
This research is focusing on how SupersAgers are able to maintain their good memory. In fact, most of the SuperAger participates plan to donate their brains to the study. By studying their brains we can link the attributers of the living person to the underlying cellular features. My SuperAger best friend, Anneliese Moore, who died at 98, donated her body and brain to the University of Hawaii for further study on super aging.
Meeting Anneliese when I was 28 and watching her “grow up” for the next 34 years, living her life with passion, determination and a brilliant brain while she beat cancer twice was my inspiration for my lifelong career in health and fitness. She showed me how “older” people are capable of expanding and adding value to the world in deep, rich ways.
Anneliese adjusted her exercise program as she aged, however, she never quit. When walking the beach became too difficult, she walked in her tiny outdoor pool. When she needed more protein to support her strength, she added eggs, cheese and dairy to her decades long vegan diet. When I visited her in Hawaii, she would always share all the new things she had learned on Mr. Google (her phrase)!
After spending so many years with my own personal SuperAger, I feel I am the luckiest person in the world and plan on following her path!