The Aged are Less Damaged Than They Used to Be

Aging is the accumulation of damage, and given that life expectancies have increased over time, we'd expect the aged to presently have less biological damage than was the case in the past. This is challenging to measure, however, given the crude state of medical technology in earlier eras. Here is an unusually clear example: "Today's 70-year-olds do far better in intelligence tests than their predecessors. It has also become more difficult to detect dementia in its early stages, though forgetfulness is still an early symptom ... The H70 study provides data on cognitive symptoms that researchers have used to predict the development of dementia, and also to investigate whether the symptoms have changed in recent generations. The study involves a large proportion of 70-year-olds from Gothenburg, Sweden, who have been extensively examined over the years ... Using the test results, we've tried to identify people who are at risk of developing dementia. While this worked well for the group of 70-year-olds born in 1901-02, the same tests didn't offer any clues about who will develop dementia in the later generation of 70-year-olds born in 1930. ... The improvement can partly be explained by better pre- and neonatal care, better nutrition, higher quality of education, better treatment of high blood pressure and other vascular diseases, and not least the higher intellectual requirements of today's society, where access to advanced technology, television and the Internet has become part of everyday life."

Link: http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=88238&CultureCode=en

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