Enhancing Healthy Cognitive Aging in the Community

Numerous older adults worry about their memory and overall cognitive abilities. Younger individuals with aging parents express concerns about their loved ones’ mental health. Thus, healthy cognitive aging is a pressing issue. Although there is a wealth of scientific evidence on what works and what doesn’t to promote healthy aging, this information is not always accessible or accurately presented in popular media and, more disturbingly, there are numerous products marketed toward promoting healthy aging that lack scientific backing. The goal of this project is to conduct extensive research in the field of cognitive aging to create an accessible summary of what constitutes healthy aging and early signs of problems, a review of “what works,” and information on local and regional services.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, we are holding a series of presentations in the community on various issues pertaining to healthy aging and cognitive health. The goal of these presentations is to increase community awareness of proactive behaviors that can promote maintenance of mental functions and independence into late adulthood, as well as providing accessible and accurate information about normal changes in memory and other cognitive functions associated with healthy aging.

To date, we have given presentations on: 1) How Memory Changes across the Lifespan, in which we describe various types of memory (short term, long term, etc.) as well as how healthy aging influences our ability to remember; 2) The Effects of Physical and Cognitive Activity on late-life functioning, in which we highlight scientifically validated evidence that supports the positive impact of exercise and mental engagement on long-term outcomes; and 3) How Diet and Nutrition Affect Cognitive Aging, in which we review recent studies on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a variety of dietary and nutritional supplements as they pertain to cognitive health in aging.

For a printable version of the summary of the presentation offering an overview of Memory Changes across the Lifespan, please click here.

For a printable version of the summary of the presentation about the benefits of Physical and Cognitive Activity, please click here.

For a printable version of the summary of the presentation about Diet, Nutrition, and Nutritional Supplements, please click here.

For a handout summarizing our work, please click here.

One hour presentations on general factors affecting memory and aging with tips on how we can support healthy cognitive function across the lifespan are also available, at no cost to interested parties.

If you are interested in hosting a presentation for a group or in learning more about the project, please email Jen at jhcoane@colby.edu