Tenbrunsel volunteers several hours a week at a food pantry run by the Chicago church where he is a parishioner. One recent morning in the sun-filled rectory kitchen, he nimbly packaged ham and cheese sandwiches, set out bags of chips and cans of soda, and cheerfully greeted a steady stream of customers.
"Good morning, good to see you," he said, standing at the pantry's bright red door. He gave everyone their choice of chips — a small gesture but important, he said, because it gives them some sense of control over their hard-luck lives.
"I enjoy doing it. I probably get more out of it than I give," Tenbrunsel said.
Ken Zwiener, of Deerfield, Ill., is another super ager. He had "more than an inkling" he might qualify for the study, and his kids encouraged him to enroll.
"They said, 'Dad, your brain is the best thing about you,'" the 81-year-old retired businessman recalled.
He's a golfer and Broadway musical "nut" who created a 300-plus-page computer database of shows. Zwiener uses an iPad, recently went hot-air ballooning and is trying to learn Spanish.
He also pours himself a vodka martini every night and is a pack-a-day cigarette smoker, but says he doesn't think his habits have made much difference. His healthy brain, he says, may be due to heredity and genes, but Zwiener said he hopes the study comes up with more "scientific insights".
"My dad lived into his middle 90s and was pretty sharp right up until the day he died," Zwiener said.
Zwiener's motivation for joining the study was simple: The best man at his wedding died of Alzheimer's disease before age 50.
"To lose a mind ... is just a terrible way to go," he said.
SuperAging study: http://tinyurl.com/lo75t7b
Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org
AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner
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