If you haven’t heard the term “super-agers” much yet, expect that to change soon. Super-agers are quickly changing the perception of what growing older could look like for certain lucky folks of the future.
According to Harvard Medical School, super-agers are defined as people who are at least in their 70s or 80s and who have the mental or physical capability of decades-younger folks. While there are many different types of super-agers out there, they’re generally divided into two groups: cognitive super-agers and physical super-agers.
As you might expect, the cognitive super-agers typically show excellent memory skills and brain function, comparable to younger adults. Meanwhile, the physical super-agers show fantastic aerobic capacity, which is the amount of oxygen you can take in and distribute to your tissues in a minute’s time. (Comes in handy for exercising!)
Whether you dream of being a trivia champ or athlete someday, or if you just want to be able to remember your most precious memories in old age, there’s no question that becoming a super-ager is a great goal. But how does one get to become a super-ager?
Experts at Northwestern University say super-agers can come from a variety of backgrounds and education levels. You don’t have to have the perfect life story in order to become a super-ager. In fact, some super-agers may have even experienced traumatic events when they were younger, such as the Holocaust or a death of a child.
That said, scientists are still studying how this small — yet incredibly diverse — group actually came to be super-agers. Furthermore, they’re still trying to figure out how the rest of us can reach that status ourselves. So while there’s sadly no definite answer just yet, experts do have a few hunches.
“There are some suggestions that people who are more optimistic age better than people who aren’t,” Joel Kramer, PsyD, said in a press release from the University of California, San Francisco. “We’re just starting to look at these personality traits and how they influence aging.”
Elissa Epel, PhD, noted in that same press release that how we react to stress may also be a factor in how we age: “The biology of aging and the biology of stress are intimate friends, and they talk to each other and influence each other. The greater the feelings of chronic stress, the greater the signs of aging in cells.”
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed right now, practicing meditation and other forms of self care may help. In the meantime, it’s always good to practice healthy aging strategies in general such as eating better, moving more, and maintaining a good social support system of loved ones.
We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to learn how we can get even more “super” as time goes on!