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50+: Live Better, Longer

Rolling Stones: How They Keep Rockin'

Are there health secrets that let these aging rock stars strut across stages year after year?
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Why They Still Rock continued...

As the Stones were getting huge in the 1960s, The Who were singing, "Hope I die before I get old." Cohen says the generation gap then emerging was really an education gap. The average person over 65 back then had just 8.6 years of education -- no match for college-educated flower children.

Now, the baby boomers who grew up with the Stones and The Who are getting a bit long in the tooth themselves. Better educated than their forebears, they also want to stay active longer. And they're willing to plunk down serious cash to see the Stones for reasons largely unrelated to music. The Stones remind them what it felt like to be young, even as they defy the common wisdom about what will happen when they get old.

Staying Engaged

In fact, the Stones confirm an emerging consensus that staying active leads to better physical and mental health in later years. "One of the keys to successful aging is to remain engaged," Mulhausen says. "Find something you're passionate about and stay passionate about it. People who do that are happier as they grow older than people who are disengaged. And being a musician really allows one the opportunity to remain engaged through the life span."

Research is emerging that challenging the older brain and body can help ward off degenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease.

Of course, Mick and his pals are just part of a growing roster of prominent musicians who have stayed active well into their golden years (see Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and so on). Most of these guys don't need the money. They stay active because rock and roll keeps them young -- a good lesson for baby boomers, Cohen says.

These Guys Are Role Models?

Perhaps the Stones are indeed role models for the baby boomers. But if so, they're role models of a very strange sort. If these wild men are still going strong, one might ask, what's the point of keeping healthy habits at all?

It's the kind of question that makes experts on aging twitch nervously.

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