101 Facts About Ageing #2: Many Cognitive Functions Decline With Age

Posted on 30 June 2021

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an American sociologist, politician, and diplomat once said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”. And we wholeheartedly agree. A shared set of facts is the first step to building a better world with longevity for all. In that spirit, we are creating a series that covers 101 indisputable facts about ageing, health and longevity.

We all know and fear neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but even in the absence of these afflictions, some decline in cognitive function during ageing is currently unavoidable. Conceptual reasoning ability, processing speed, and in particular memory all decline over time, while certain cognitive abilities such as vocabulary appear resistant to ageing or may even increase over time.

Differential effects of aging on cognitive processes. (adapted from... |  Download Scientific Diagram
Effects of ageing on different cognitive processes.

There is significant variation in the extent of cognitive decline experienced by different individuals. While cognitive decline occurs in the absence of neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer’s remains the most significant cause of cognitive decline in older adults. Cognitive decline in general is a significant cause of reduced quality of life in old age.


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