An 85-year-old ‘SuperAger’ With The Memory Of Someone Decades Younger Shares What Keeps Her Mind Sharp

Scientists are looking at “SuperAgers,” a rare group of older people with the brains of people 30 years younger than them, to find out how humans can keep their memories sharp as they age.

Researchers have found that the best ways to keep your mind sharp as you get older are to eat plants and whole foods, work out regularly, and keep in touch with people.

Emily Rogalski, a cognitive neuroscientist and SuperAgers researcher, told Insider that the lifestyles of SuperAgers can be very different, which may come as a surprise. Rogalski said that some SuperAgers are “super exercisers” but that some only became more active as they got older. Rogalski said that the same is true about diet. Some SuperAgers are health nuts, while others say they ate too many TV dinners as kids.

An 85-year-old 'SuperAger' with the memory
An 85-year-old ‘SuperAger’ with the memory

Take Carol Siegler, a SuperAger from the Chicago area who has tried out twice to be on Jeopardy! Siegler, one of these rare and special older people, told Insider that she doesn’t follow a strict exercise plan or eat only superfoods.

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Siegler said that she wakes up at an “average time” and eats an “average breakfast” of oatmeal, omelets, and french toast. The 85-year-old woman said she makes coffee first thing in the morning and plays Wordle or the New York Times, Spelling Bee while she waits for it to brew, but only if she “feels like it.”

The SuperAger said she has recently started eating more plant-based meals, but she wouldn’t say she is on a diet. She tries not to snack or keep junk food at home, but she doesn’t put any other limits on herself.

Siegler said that she started working out regularly after her husband died more than a year ago. Siegler takes chair yoga classes twice a week and does other exercises at her hospital’s gym on the other days. She had played volleyball in college, but she had to watch her husband and children work out for most of her adult life.

She told Insider, “I don’t have a specific routine. I just do the things that most people do.” “I go to bed, I don’t take a lot of pills, and I don’t eat anything special.”

To keep your mind sharp, you can’t get stuck in a rut.

Siegler doesn’t have a strict workout or diet plan, which might seem strange. However, Rogalski said that her life is always changing might be why she’s stayed so sharp.

“Change is good for our brains,” Rogalski said. “Switching things up and having some variety helps us stay alert.”

Rogalski said that the human brain has changed over time to alert us to new or difficult things in our environment. People had done this since the beginning of time when they had to listen for rustling in the woods, which could mean a snake or bear was nearby.

Rogalski also said, “Noticing these differences helps keep us safe.”

Rogalski and other researchers who have studied SuperAgers have found that they tend to challenge themselves by reading new books, playing puzzles and mind games, or learning something new.

Siegler keeps her mind sharp by reading and doing puzzles. She bought three big books of crossword puzzles and won her age group’s online contest. She also plays Wordle and Sudoku on her iPad. She likes to watch documentaries by David Attenborough and stays updated on the stock market and daily news.

She said, “I like to learn new things.” “As a kid, I was always the one who read everything.”

But, again, Siegler doesn’t have a lot of rules about what she puts in her mind. She keeps a puzzle book by her bed, sometimes plays it at night, and sometimes doesn’t.

Siegler says people who want to live a healthy life shouldn’t stick to a strict daily plan but should change their routines often. Siegler does things like park far away from the grocery store or library or carries small loads of laundry to and from the machine instead of going on planned walks.

Siegler said, “You get in a groove, and if you stay there too long, it turns into a rut, then a trench, then a tunnel.” “Turn your head and look around all the time.”

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