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Education, Fitness Associated With Successful Aging

Older adults who maintain cognitive function have distinct profile, study finds

TUESDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- The profile of older adults who maintain cognitive function is unique and different from those who undergo cognitive decline, according to a study published in the June 9 issue of Neurology.

Kristine Yaffe, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a study of 2,509 well-functioning older adults and measured their cognitive function at baseline, then again after three, five and eight years. During that time, cognitive function was maintained by 30 percent of the subjects, while 53 percent showed minor decline and 16 percent had major cognitive decline.

Subjects who were white were more likely than their black counterparts to be a maintainer versus a minor decliner (odds ratio, 1.72), the researchers discovered. The odds ratios for those with high school education or greater, or ninth grade literacy level or greater, were 2.75 and 4.85, respectively, while younger age, not smoking and regular exercise were all associated with better odds of maintaining cognitive function, the investigators found.

"Future studies should incorporate imaging techniques to assess the correlation between cognitive maintenance and brain function/morphology over time," the authors write. "Elucidating predictors of optimal cognitive function will enable the development of strategies that may prevent onset or slow the progression of dementia in late life."

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