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July 7, 1945


JAMA. 1945;128(10):735-736. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860270037014

The human life span has been extended from something like 29.4 years for the ancient Greeks to 59.3 for men and 62.8 for women in the United States of America. The number of people over 65 now reach the grand total of 9 million; statisticians anticipate 26 million past 65 in 1980. Thus the question of retardation of mental decline assumes great practical significance. George Lawton1 of the Old Age Counseling Center, New York, points out that not all of the physical inadequacies of older persons are due to inescapable infirmities of old age. Much results from neglect of physical condition and failure to continue exercise. We gain mental stature quickly, particularly between 13 and 16 years, and lose it slowly. The ability to learn new facts reaches its maximum in the late teens and early twenties and then starts slowly declining. While there is a decrease in the