Discovering the Secrets of Cognitive Super-Agers: Aging with Flair and Style

Unlocking the Secrets of Superagers Unveiling their Common Traits

Superagers The Common Traits Inside Their Brains

Close up of older couple holding hands Image by Evgenij Yulkin / StocksyOctober 3, 2023

We all dream of aging gracefully, with a mind as sharp as ever. Well, my fellow fashion enthusiasts, hold onto your hats because I’m about to reveal the secrets of the “cognitive super-agers” – those remarkable individuals who are not only rocking the fashion scene but also defying the odds of mental decline.

Picture it: a world where you can strut your stuff down the runway of life, even in your twilight years. According to the brilliant minds at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, these super-agers possess an uncanny resilience to stress that keeps their minds as vibrant as their sense of fashion!

You might be wondering, “What’s their secret? Are they superheroes in disguise?” Well, not exactly. Turns out, it’s all in how they handle the curveballs life throws at them. Whether they’ve triumphed over the trials of a Nazi death camp or conquered cancer, they have something in common – an extraordinary ability to find the silver lining and move forward, like a supermodel strutting down the catwalk.

But here’s where things get really interesting: Aging takes a toll on our brains, ladies and gents. Our precious brains shrink over time, losing nearly 10% of their weight by the ripe old age of ninety. However, these cognitive super-agers defy the laws of aging with their brains that look just as young and vibrant as those of fifty- or sixty-year-olds. Talk about defying gravity!

While the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus may shrink in the average brain, these exceptional individuals sport a thicker cingulate cortex. Think of it as the brain’s fabulous, attention-grabbing accessory, enhancing their attention, cognitive control, decision-making, and memory. And that’s not all – their brains are filled with an abundance of von Economo neurons, which allow for rapid communication across the brain. It’s like they’ve found the fountain of youth for their minds!

Now, onto the million-dollar question: Is it genetics or lifestyle that gives these super-agers their remarkable powers? It’s still a bit of a mystery, my friends. Some lucky souls may be born with brains that are built to last a lifetime, while others activate a mighty response to aging, defying the wear and tear that plagues the rest of us mere mortals.

In a recent study of healthy Dutch centenarians (yes, the ones who effortlessly rock their fabulous outfits), researchers discovered that these marvelous individuals experienced little to no decline in cognitive function, except for a slight hiccup in memory. Imagine, at the age of 100, they performed on par with folks in their seventies! It’s like they’re strutting their stuff down the catwalk of life, leaving the rest of us in awe.

Now, here’s a mind-boggling fact for you: Some of these super-agers had brains that looked like they had been through a wild rollercoaster ride, with scars and marks resembling those seen in advanced Alzheimer’s patients. But guess what? Their brain function remained unscathed, all while rocking those fashionable ensembles. Talk about a true style icon!

But hold onto your fascinators, darlings, because here’s the flip side. As we approach the magnificent milestone of 100, the risk of dementia skyrockets. It’s like wearing that daring outfit that grabs everyone’s attention – the risk becomes higher, but so do the rewards. Those who make it past the century mark face a two-year window of heightened vulnerability compared to the twenty-five years of risk faced by younger age groups. So, those centenarians who never develop dementia truly are extraordinary trendsetters in every sense of the word.

But here’s the good news: Researchers scanning over 100,000 brains, from a 16-week-old fetus to a 100-year-old, have discovered that our brains are marvelously adaptable. They adjust to meet the challenges of every stage of life, allowing us to rock the runway of aging with grace and style. It’s like having the perfect accessory for every outfit, ensuring we always look fierce and fabulous.

So, my fashion-forward friends, let’s raise our glasses to the cognitive super-agers, who have shown us that aging doesn’t have to mean fading into the background. With resilience, positivity, and a touch of fabulousness, we can navigate the maze of life’s challenges while retaining our sharp minds and impeccable style. Together, let’s strut our stuff down the catwalk of life with confidence, grace, and a whole lot of fashion flair!

Excerpted from The Big 100: The New World of Super-Aging by William J. Kole, available wherever books are sold. Copyright © 2023 William J. Kole. Printed with permission of the publisher, Diversion Books. All rights reserved.