New report by the Institute of Medicine on cognitive health promotion

Title: Cog­ni­tive Aging: Progress in Under­stand­ing and Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Action

Report brief (opens PDF)

Read full report online

Descrip­tion: Peo­ple for­get things—a name, where they put their keys, a phone number—and yet what is dis­missed as a minor incon­ve­nience at 25 years of age, can evolve into a momen­tary anx­i­ety at 35, and a major source of per­son­al wor­ry at ages 55 or 60. For­get­ful­ness at old­er ages is often equat­ed with a decline in cognition—a pub­lic health issue that goes beyond mem­o­ry laps­es and one that can have sig­nif­i­cant impacts on inde­pen­dent liv­ing and healthy aging. The term “cog­ni­tion” cov­ers many men­tal abil­i­ties and process­es includ­ing deci­sion mak­ing, mem­o­ry, atten­tion, and prob­lem-solv­ing. At this point in time, when the old­er pop­u­la­tion is rapid­ly grow­ing in the Unit­ed States and across the globe, it is impor­tant to care­ful­ly exam­ine what is known about cog­ni­tive aging, to iden­ti­fy the pos­i­tive steps that can be tak­en to pro­mote cog­ni­tive health, and then to take action to imple­ment those changes by inform­ing and acti­vat­ing the pub­lic, the health sec­tor, non­prof­it and pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tions, com­mu­ni­ties, the pri­vate sec­tor, and gov­ern­ment agen­cies. This Insti­tute of Med­i­cine (IOM) study exam­ines cog­ni­tive aging, a nat­ur­al process asso­ci­at­ed with advanc­ing years. The IOM com­mit­tee was charged with assess­ing the pub­lic health dimen­sions of cog­ni­tive aging with an empha­sis on def­i­n­i­tions and ter­mi­nol­o­gy, epi­demi­ol­o­gy and sur­veil­lance, pre­ven­tion and inter­ven­tion, edu­ca­tion of health pro­fes­sion­als, and pub­lic aware­ness and education.

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