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“Age isn’t a number, it’s a mind-set.” “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better”. Why do some people age gracefully and some never seem to age at all?

There is a category of people in their golden years who appear to be just as active and cognitive as their younger peers.  This is a group known as “super-agers”. Super-ager is a  term which refers to people in their 70s and 80s who have the mental or physical capability of their decades-younger counterparts.

Former President Donald Trump said recently in an interview that there was one thing that could beat him in the 2024 presidential election: His health. He commented,

“You always have to talk about health”

The 75-year-old has dropped multiple hints that he is planning to run for a second stint in the White House but suggested he could end up settling to watch the political battle play out among his rivals. He has told his advisors that his health would factor into his final decision.  However, doctors who study ageing and presidential health, have suggested that Trump could be a ‘super ager’ – fit and active into his 80s.

Donald Trump giving the camera a thumbs up as he walks onto stage for a speech

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

What Does It Take To Be A “Super-Ager”?

Embracing new mental challenges may be the key to being a super-ager. Dr. Bradford Dickerson, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, states that super-agers approach problem-solving in a different manner. He said,

“They may approach these tasks as a challenge they can succeed at, in contrast to typical older adults who may give up.”

Willingness to try something new and moving out of your comfort zone may put you into this group. Super-agers don’t mind enduring discomfort to gain knowledge. Northwestern Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago lists these habits of super-agers:

  • SuperAgers live an active lifestyle.
  • SuperAgers continue to challenge themselves.
  • SuperAgers are social butterflies.
  • SuperAgers indulge.

Neuroscientist Emily Rogalski, PhD from Northwestern University says that family history and diet also play a factor with super-agers. Super-agers manage to avoid the brain shrinkage common with growing older. Moreover, super-agers avoid the disruption in communication between brain regions important for memory. And their memories are as strong as those of young adults.

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. Cognitive super-agers show excellent memory skills and brain function while 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.

Former president Ronald Reagn smiling behind a podium

(Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

In 1984, Ronald Regan, then age 73, when asked about his advanced age, said “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” “Super-ager” was not a frequently used term in 1984. Reagan was the third oldest president so perhaps he was one too.