It's Health, Not Age, That Matters

McCain probably has enough juice left in tank
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2008 10:36 AM CDT
John McCain jokes about his age on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" Monday, Aug. 25, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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(Newser) – At 72, John McCain would be the oldest person elected president, but should that matter to voters? Probably not, according to geriatrics experts consulted by the Wall Street Journal. “Aging has such a small impact on how we function that it is of minimal importance,” says one specialist. Though brain functions deteriorate with age, that decline is offset by experience, and older brains do unconscious work-arounds to compensate for slower retrieval speed.

The mental capacity of a 45-year-old and a 75-year-old are "absolutely" the same, the specialist tells the Journal, adding that energy is a function of health, not age. Mathematicians may do their best work in their 20s, notes another geriatric specialist, but orchestra conductors and diplomats peak in their 60s or 70s. And as to McCain's lack of computer literacy? There's no evidence that old people are less open to new ideas, one claims: "If he's averse to technology now, he probably always was."