Today's old people are stronger, faster and smarter than 30 years ago

Finnish scientists from the University of Jyväskylä conducted a unique study comparing data on the quality and life expectancy of people aged 75-80 years in 1989 and in 2017. There are practically no such studies of people of the same age with a difference of a whole generation (about 30 years) in the world. The conclusions are contradictory: modern old people began to live better, which means longer, which creates a huge financial burden and therefore the country needs social reform.

Back in 2001, WHO introduced a new metric in the global analysis of human life, called HALE (healthy life expectancy). The experts came to the conclusion that a simple calculation of the years lived is secondary, and in the first place should be the indicator of the number of years lived with an optimal state of health. One of the reasons is that in the new reality in developed countries, more and more people are guaranteed to cross the 70-year-old milestone, but the question is - how do they live at that age today?

According to Finnish research, modern old people are much smarter and intellectually richer than their predecessors. They have higher walking speed and lung performance, grip strength is 5-25% better, and knee extension strength is 20-47% better than in the last century. Most successfully pass cognitive tests, and there are fewer cases of senile dementia. Scientists see this as a consequence of the social reforms that took place in Finland in the 1940s and 1950s and significantly improved the quality of life of people.

Scientists clarify that Finland is in many ways an isolated country, so the research data cannot be generalized to the whole world. Although the trend is just that - modern old people have lived more comfortable and calm lives than their parents, and therefore their HALE indicators are higher. But this is a trap for social services and authorities, because such older people live longer, but after 80 years, HALE always falls. Elderly people need care, long-term maintenance, which requires the involvement of many resources, but not all states are ready for this.