Programme Grant Elderly: Cognitive aging: From observational studies to intervention
Forte, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Alzheimer's disease & other dementias
The overall objective of this research program is to provide new knowledge on the influence of human aging on health and cognitive functioning, focusing on both normal aging and dementia. We seek to identify factors that determine why some older individuals remain cognitively and physically healthy well into their 80s, whereas others show decline much earlier. The proportion of individuals who reach senescence has changed markedly in the past decades. This change in population structure will be magnified in the years to come. In particular, the number of persons who live into the 90s and above will change drastically in just a few decades. Because increasing adult age is the most prominent risk factor for Alzheimer´s disease and other dementia disorders, these facts will inevitably result in a marked increase of the number of individuals affected. Thus, more knowledge about factors that increase the risk for dementia (some of which might be modifiable), but also knowledge about factors that promote successful cognitive aging, is imperative from a public-health perspective. The focus is on observational research based on a large-scale, longitudinal population-based study (the Swedish National study of Aging and Care in Kungsholmen or SNAC-K). The research program also includes a large number of intervention studies targeting both normal old individuals and those at risk for developing dementia. The planned research is organized into four main areas: (a) Individual differences in rate of cognitive decline in normal aging; (b) Postponing dementia onset: Risk and prospective factors; (c) The body-mind connection; and (d) Cognitive interventions. Research in the first three research areas draws empirically on the SNAC-K project, whereas the last area comprises different intervention studies. The general focus is on delineating determining factors across the chain that progresses from well-preserved cognitive functioning through impairment to dementia.