Saturday, November 9, 2013

Penina Mezei about Successful Aging

Substantial increases in the number of older persons in our society pose a challenge for biology, social, behavioral science, and medicine. Successful aging is multidimensional, encompassing the avoidance of disease and disability, and includes maintenance of high physical and cognitive function, and sustained engagement in social and productive activities. Penina Mezei, Vice President of patient relations at Attencia has identified factors predictive of success in these critical domains.

Millions of Americans are experiencing longer life as the percentage of Americans aged 65 and older has tripled in the last 100 years, and now represents 13 % of the population. But as the number of people living into the second 50 years of life continues to climb, the urgency now has begun to shift from that of medically prolonging life to ensuring that a prolonged life is worth living.

Researchers are inspecting the problem along several fronts, and some of the most practically applicable work has come from the field of memory and cognition. According to Penina Mezei, It is cognitive capacity, more than any physical disability that most often determines whether people can attain extreme old age while remaining active. Studies in this area range from better understanding mental functioning, to the importance of social support in keeping memories sharp, to the basic review of everyday activities.

Being engaged in this sector, Mezei is reassured almost daily that humans in their later years have far more physical and mental strength than imagined. There are countless proves that memory loss can be reversed by individual strategies such as daily memory checks and regular mental exercises. As one of Attencia’s chief executives, Penina Mezei has been actively involved in finding methods to help people change their behavior and take advantage of increased longevity.

There are so many important questions about health and aging that need to be answered. But a new paradigm that caught the attention of Ms. Mezei shows that memory and cognitive power don't necessarily decline with age as traditionally thought.

Pursuing that theory, Penina Mezei began researching and studying the value of having older adults develop memory strategies, perform a daily self-monitoring of their memory and carry out regular mental exercises. One of her findings that surprised many people was the fact that skills at abstract reasoning played no role at all in a person's proficiency at solving a crossword puzzle, whether young or old. Simple knowledge and experience made the difference.