Cognitive decline is the first outward sign of dementia, which has a major public health impact on individuals and governments around the world. As individuals age, cognitive abilities gradually start to deteriorate for independent or combined genetic and environmental causes. Given that very little can be done regarding our genetic inheritance, the focus of the current research is on modifiable risk factors across the life course. There is a well-established relationship between specific lifestyle behaviours and cognitive decline, but extremely limited research on the role of combined lifestyle factors. This chapter aims to describe the process of cognitive ageing on multiple cognitive domains (fluid and crystallised), highlighting the changes in cognitive performance occurring as a normal process of ageing, as well as the most severe forms of cognitive impairment indicative of probable risk of dementia. Also, the role of modifiable risk factors such as lifestyle behaviours (alcohol, smoking, physical activity and dietary patterns) will be evaluated in relation to healthy cognitive ageing and preventions of cognitive decline. There are many questions to be answered regarding the biological foundations of cognitive ageing across the spectrum, and the potential role of lifestyle behaviours in reverting the accelerated changes in the cognitive ageing process.
Part of the book: Geriatrics Health