The secret of staying young: learn to fix a bike

Author: By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Taking notice of the good things around you and learning something new ? even how to fix a bike ? are part of the five-a-day deeds that together can help to avert cognitive decline in later life, the scientists believe.

Based on the idea of eating at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day to avoid heart disease and cancer, the researchers identified a handful of simple daily actions that anyone can do to maintain their mental wellbeing in later life.

The suggestions, published today, form part of a much a larger investigation aimed at promoting the nation’s mental resources during a period when the population will age significantly as the number of people over 65 is set to double.

More than 400 experts contributed to the government-funded study which identified the improvements as well as the possible pitfalls that can affect intellectual development and abilities during childhood, adolescence and old age. The factors that affect mental wellbeing begin in the womb and continue throughout life, according to the report published by the Government’s Foresight think-tank, which looks strategically at long-term problems faced by society.

There is also a need to reverse the negative stereotyping of elderly people and come up with a new mindset to combat the idea that old age is a stigma, particularly as by 2071, 21.3 million Britons will be over 65 and 9.5 million will be older than 80.

“Promoting valued and valuable engagement, enabling people to work if they wish. There is a case for government to review the right of older adults to continue working,” the report says.

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