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90 is the new, uh, 90

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It has recently come to Life in the Boomer Lane’s attention that, while she and her friends (roughly aged late 50’s to early 70′s) spend a lot of time bemoaning their physical and mental deterioration, a huge number of people are mindlessly cavorting through their 90′s, oblivious to the aging concerns that LBL and her friends are having.

Populations of those aged 90 and over are rapidly accelerating all over the world. According to the National Institute of Aging, the total U.S. population aged 90 and over is projected to more than quadruple by 2050. Added to that is that ninety-somethings seem to be getting smarter. Today’s oldest people are surviving longer, and appear to have sharper minds than the people reaching their nineties 10 years ago. About 40% of people in their 90s live alone.

Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark found that Danish people born in 1915 were about a third more likely to live to their 90s than those born in 1905, and were smarter also. Research spanned 12 years and involved more than 5000 people. The nonagenarians, born in either 1905 or 1915, were given a test called a “mini-mental state examination”, and cognitive tests designed to pick up age-related changes. Not only did those born in 1915 do better at both sets of tests, more of them also scored top marks in the mini-mental state exam.

“The outcome underlines that ageing is malleable,” Olde Rikkert says, adding that cognitive function can actually be a lot better than people would assume until a very high age.

When LBL read about this study, she immediately hired a nonagerian to keep track of her car keys and appointments.

Other news about people in their 90s:

Olga Kotelko, a retired schoolteacher, from Vancouver, Canada, took up track and field at the age of 77 and has since scored 26 world records and more than 750 gold medals and might be the only the female nonagenarian still long-jumping and high- jumping competitively. In a new book written about her, What Makes Olga Run?, she reveals how she likes to exercise daily, get eight hours of sleep, keep her brain active with Sudoku puzzles and eat unprocessed foods – with pickled herring, Greek yogurt and the occasional dram of Scotch.

Lee and Morty Kaufman are a 90-year-old couple, and now media darlings, you may have seen in new ads for Swiffer cleaning products. They have just celebrated their 45-year wedding anniversary. Morty was a neighborhood pharmacist in Brooklyn, Lee a teacher. Both had been widowed in their early forties. Lee agreed to teach summer school on year. Morty’s son was in the class. Morty came in for his parent-teacher conference, and their relationship started shortly thereafter. They married when each was 45-years-old. They had six children between them. Both say their years together have been blissful.

It’s tough looking after one’s 94-year-old father, as G, a friend of LBL, has discovered. Mostly, her dad refuses to settle down and act his age. He travels to Europe solo and attends cultural events solo. Recently, he attended a lecture in DC and took the bus home alone at 10:30 PM. When G told him he should have called her for a pick up, he told her she was being silly. On another occasion, G took him to an Irish Pub, thinking it would be a treat for him. As he drank his Guinness and ate his Shepherd’s Pie, he complained about how quiet it was, and that there were only “old fogies” sitting around. (It was only 5:00, after all). He went on to say he’d been there many times before (alone) and it was jumpin’. His main annoyance in life seems to be the number of women who hit on him wherever he goes.

LBL has written about Mabel, the feisty 90-something mother of a close friend. Mabel continues to live in the big house she has always lived in, and, until last year, maintained her house herself and drove. Next month will be Mabel’s 100th birthday celebration. She isn’t sure what the fuss is all about. Her ex-daughter-in-law told her to just keep her thoughts to herself and show up at the restaurant.

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