Some people live long, but do not necessarily live well, in their later years, as cognitive health — memory, attention, judgment, intuition, and language — can decline. Depression can become debilitating. Older adults who experience cognitive decline may be unable to prepare meals, manage money, or care for themselves.
The Healthy Aging Work Group’s newest initiative will explore brain health to develop a better understanding of the brain’s resilience. The goal of the work group is to promote public awareness of what can be done to promote overall brain health.
The multidisciplinary work group — with expertise in psychiatry and mood disorders, epidemiology, neuroscience, and public policy — aims to determine:
- What mechanisms enable some individuals to compensate and age better than others?
- Once identified, can these mechanisms become a target for intervention and management?
- Can we develop a prescription that combines neurochemical and behavioral interventions to improve brain health?
Building on the Healthy Brain initiative of the Centers for Disease Control, the workgroup will explore why some older adults — even those with severe physical disabilities — mentally age more successfully than others.
The study will also evaluate health risk factors such as high blood pressure, high glucose, and fat levels to study if the brain is better able to adapt when these conditions develop slowly.
Recognizing the challenges of motivating older adults to consistently engage in exercises and other brain health activities, the work group will explore the potential of creating biomarkers that will reward older adults and enable them to actually chart their brain health’s progress.