Retirees leaving sociable workplaces may experience accelerated cognitive decline

A study published recently in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, provides new evidence that workers retiring from occupations which involve high levels of social stimulation may be at greater risk of accelerated cognitive decline in later life.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at University of Liège, in collaboration with the Universities of Bordeaux and South Florida, surveyed 1,048 individuals over the age of 65 from Bordeaux. Participants were evaluated at 2 year intervals for a period of 12 years. Psychologists’ evaluations included detailed assessments of subjects’ mental cognition, general health and information about their former occupation. Three independents raters were asked to evaluate the level of social and intellectual stimulation for each occupation. Continue reading

Education as protector against dementia, but what exactly do we mean by education?

Francisca S. Then is researcher at the Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Health and Public Health (ISAP) and the LIFE – Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases at the University of Leipzig, Germany, with a major research focus on the epidemiology of cognitive decline and dementia. She discussed her recent Age & Ageing paper ‘Education as protector against dementia, but what exactly do we mean by education?

diploma-1390785_960_720Attaining a higher level of education is considered to be important in order to keep up good cognitive functioning in old age. Higher education also seems to decrease the risk of developing dementia. This is of high relevance in so far that dementia is a terminal disease characterized by a long degenerative progression with severe impairments in daily functioning. Continue reading

Higher early life intellectual ability is associated with better physical functioning in older age

Taina Poranen-Clark is a PhD student at University of Jyväskylä. Her special research interest is in the interrelation of cognitive and physical functioning during the life-course. She recently published Intellectual Ability in Young Adulthood as an Antecedent of Physical Functioning in Older Age in Age and Ageing journal.

aaPhysical and cognitive functioning are important factors for maintaining functional independence and quality of life in older age. Previous studies have shown that cognitive impairment coexists with poor physical functioning and predicts changes in functional status. Cognitive ageing has implications for motor performance in older age as cognitive functions play an important role in skilled motor performance. Deterioration in the structure or function of the central nervous system has negative effects on the execution of physical tasks in old age. Executive functions are high-level cognitive functions that control and guide goal-directed motor performances. A higher level of intellectual ability in early adulthood as an antecedent of cognitive reserve is linked to better later life physical functioning. Continue reading

The more you study, the later you drop – Education and terminal cognitive decline

Graciela Muniz-Terrera is a Senior Investigator Scientist at the MRC Lifelong Health and Ageing Unit at UCLshutterstock_21757213

The terminal decline hypothesis suggests an acceleration of rate of cognitive decline before death, although information about the onset of faster decline is inconsistent and varies by ability examined. The identification of factors that may delay such onset is crucial for policy implementation, as such delay would imply that individuals spend a shorter period of time in the fast declining stages of life. Education is a modifiable risk factor usually considered as a proxy for cognitive reserve that has been shown to be associated with cognitive function and, in a few American studies, has also been shown to be associated with a later onset of preclinical dementia. Continue reading