FOUR OF EIGHT NONAGENARIANS FEATURED IN A 2014 “60 MINUTES” STORY ARE STILL ALIVE AND PROVIDING DATA FOR A LANDMARK STUDY ON AGING
Lou Tirado is 100
“60 Minutes” Follows up on the 90+ Study, Seeking the Secrets to Longevity
Watch an Excerpt.
Six years ago, Lesley Stahl reported on a landmark study of thousands of members of a retirement community in Southern California, interviewing eight men and women over the age of 90 – members of a group sometimes referred to as “the oldest old.” Stahl went back to Laguna Woods to find four of the remarkable seniors still alive and participating in the National Institutes of Health-funded study, called “The 90+ Study.” Her story will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Nov. 22 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Stahl revisits Lou Tirado, who turned 100 this summer. The WWII B-17 gunner is on Facebook and uses Zoom to communicate on his laptop computer.
At 99, Helen Weil, who was ballroom dancing six years ago, is thriving. She walks daily and does exercises in her chair, and as she tells Stahl, she wakes up every morning at 6:30 AM with help from her iPhone virtual assistant, Siri.
Sid Shero is also 99. A PET scan six years ago, when he was still driving a convertible, revealed the markers for Alzheimer’s in his brain. But his memory is still sharp today, suggesting he may have some protection against dementia which the study is eager to understand.
Ruthy Stahl, now 102, is not doing as well cognitively. When 60 MINUTES first visited her, she was speed walking and still driving at age 95. This time, she didn’t remember meeting the 60 MINUTES team.
All the men and women 60 MINUTES met six years ago, along with hundreds of others over 90, have agreed to be thoroughly examined, physically and cognitively, by the 90+ team every six months. The study has yielded valuable insights into factors associated with long life: exercise, moderate drinking of alcohol and caffeine, social engagement and carrying a little extra weight. Now the primary area of focus is how more of us can make it to such advanced ages with memory and thinking intact – of critical importance given that the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Claudia Kawas of the University California Irvine, tells Stahl, “Half of all children born today in the United States and Europe are going to reach their 103rd or 104th birthday.”
Many participants agree to donate their brains to the study, so even the ones who have passed away are contributing to important new discoveries. Ted Rosenbaum was 95 when Stahl interviewed him in 2014 and was thought to be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. But when pathologists examined his brain, they did not find the proteins amyloid and tau that define Alzheimer’s. Instead, they found a different protein, TDP-43 – a newly-discovered cause of dementia in people over 90.
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