Are you seeing what we’re seeing? Society’s aging demographic is skewing increasingly towards an older age. At Amada Senior Care, we are constantly in awe of our remarkable senior clients in their 90s and early 100s for whom we have the privilege of caring. In recent years, health scientists have put a label on these remarkable individuals: “Super Agers.”

The Rise of Super Agers in the Senior Population

According to Census Bureau statistics, about one in 4,000 Americans are age 100 or older. There number may be growing, given that the Census projects the number of Americans aged 85 and older is expected to nearly double by 2035—from 6.5 million to 11.8 million.

The rise of Super Agers has sparked a fascination among scientists, care experts and the public alike. There’s even a Super Agers Initiative designed to create a community focused on celebrating but also studying aging seniors with exceptional longevity. How do these vibrant elders maintain their cognitive and physical prowess into their 80s, 90s and even 100s?

What Makes a Senior a Super Ager?

Super Agers are not just distinguished by their chronological age but by their remarkable mental and physical function, which is often comparable to those decades younger. They seem to defy the typical expectations of aging, displaying mental acuity, emotional resilience, and physical health that set them apart.

A study published last year by The Lancet Healthy Longevity journal reported on 64 Super Agers and 55 older adults taking part in the Vallecas Project on Alzheimer’s. Tests showed this group scored lower levels of anxiety and depression, the latter of which is a risk factor for developing dementia. The participants told researchers they had been more active in midlife, lived independently and enjoyed good amounts of sleep. (Poor sleep is linked cognitive decline.)

One of the Vallecas Project’s takeaways so far is that super aging may be associated with slower age-related declines in mobility and walking. Project participants scored higher on mobility, balance and agility tests. This points to direct and indirect benefits of remaining physically active, as this seems to contribute to improved cognitive abilities as people age.

The Hallmarks of Super Aging

Cognitive Sharpness: Super Agers often maintain a sharp memory and problem-solving abilities.

Emotional Resilience: Many Super Agers exhibit positive attitudes, a zest for life, and profound emotional well-being.

Physical Health: They typically suffer from fewer age-related diseases and maintain an active lifestyle.

Social Engagement: Staying socially active appears to be a key element in Super Agers’ remarkable longevity.

Purposeful Living: A common trait is the presence of hobbies, passions, or routines that give Super Agers their daily life purpose.

Some Real-Life Examples of Super Agers

Let’s celebrate several inspiring individuals who epitomize the essence of Super Agers.

Maria Branyas: The Ultimate Super Ager

Age 117, Branyas, who lives in a nursing home in northeastern Spain, is considered to be the world’s oldest person. Her family says her mind is sharp, despite her hearing loss and impaired mobility. Scientists studying her genome believe her cells are about 10 years younger than their actual age—a factor likened to a winning hand in genetics. Branyas survived Covid and pandemic confinement, telling El País: “I’ve never lost my zest for life.”

Fauja Singh: The Centenarian Marathon Man

Singh earned the title of the “world’s oldest marathon runner” after completing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon at the age of 100. He didn’t start long-distance running until he was 89, proving that it’s never too late to start an athletic pursuit. His regimen included running up to 10 miles a day and following a vegetarian diet, which he believed were crucial for his physical endurance and longevity.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer: Longtime Sex Therapist in New Role as Ambassador to Loneliness

At 95, Dr. Ruth, the world-renowned TV and radio talk show host, author, professor, and Holocaust survivor, is the newly appointed Ambassador of Loneliness for the state of New York. She pitched the idea herself during the Covid-19 pandemic. She pledged to help New Yorkers deal with social isolation and poor relationships, which are associated with many physical and mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and more.

Mel Brooks: 97 Years Young and Still Laughing

Brooks, the legendary filmmaker behind comedy classics such as Blazing Saddles, The Producers, Spaceballs, High Anxiety, Young Frankenstein, received an honorary Oscar at the 14th Governors Awards last November. His half-joking tip for those who want to live into their 90s is “eat raisin bran,” but he also has said he refuses to retire. “In order to stay alive, work,” he told Distractify. “Keep working no matter what if you can, at something you love to do. Never ever retire. Never sit when you can stand, never stand when you can walk.” Brooks walks the walk, having launched his highly successful sketch comedy series “History of the World, Part II” on Hulu last year.

What are Some Secrets of Super Aging?

While there is no single formula to becoming a Super Ager, there are several lifestyle factors that are consistently observed among them:

Balanced Diet: Nutrient-rich diets with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats are common among Super Agers.

Regular Physical Exercise: Whether it’s running marathons or practicing yoga, Super Agers tend to remain physically active.

Mental Stimulation: Engaging in activities that challenge the brain, like puzzles, games, and learning new skills, can help maintain cognitive function.

Positive Outlook: A positive attitude and ability to manage stress play a crucial role in overall well-being.

Strong Social Ties: Maintaining strong relationships and community connections is a hallmark of Super Agers.

Purposeful Living: Having a reason to get up in the morning, be it passion projects, hobbies, or voluntary work, is key to a life well-lived.

What Does Super Aging Look Like Either for Yourself or a Senior Loved One?

At Amada Senior Care, we not only admire Super Agers but also strive to learn from their examples as we continue to dedicate our efforts to enriching the lives of our senior clients and their families. By incorporating healthy lifestyle habits and positive mental perspectives, we believe everyone has the potential to age not just gracefully, but superlatively.

If you or a senior loved one are looking to maximize your golden years and want to learn more about living like a Super Ager, get in touch with us today and start your journey to a fulfilling and vibrant life at any age. CLICK HERE to find an Amada office near you.


“Unlocking the Mysteries of Super Agers,” edited by Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributor.