Date: 21 April 2017
Staying ‘mentally active’ throughout adulthood, such as by taking on leadership roles at work or studying, can help limit cognitive decline in later life, new research has shown.
This research, supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula, found that older people’s earlier mental experiences made their brains more resilient to changes from age or illness—a concept known as ‘cognitive reserve’.
Participants’ cognitive reserve appeared to influence the extent to which a healthy lifestyle, such as a good diet and more physical activity, limited age-related cognitive decline.
This large-scale study used data from more than 2,000 mentally well people over the age of 65 in the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study Wales (CFAS-Wales) cohort.
The researchers concluded that enhancing cognitive reserve may support the positive effects of healthy and active lifestyle on brain function in later life.
They recommend providing access to education and opportunities to develop skills in the workplace to help people develop this resilience and stave off cognitive decline in later years.
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