Despite the significant attention given to dementia, brain health and ways to improve cognition little attention has been given until now on environmental exposure as a modifiable factor that can affect brain’s process of ageing. Results of a first known study on this matter, published in Journal Health & Place, suggest a joint impact of genetic makeup and physical environment on the cognitive health of older adults. Researchers found that living in neighborhood with greater access to social, walking and retail destinations is associated with better cognitive function and the relationship is strongest among those who are at the lowest genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Given the fact that age-related cognitive disorders are on the rise, researchers across the healthcare system are seeking innovative ways to prevent and treat these conditions. Many are by gene therapy and precision medicine, but little or no consideration appears to be given to the effect of the environment where people are born and live throughout the life course.
"Research on the potential influences of the neighborhood environment on cognition and brain aging can help inform recommendations for neighborhood improvements to simultaneously address population growth and healthy brain aging," said Lilah M. Besser, leading author of the study and an assistant professor from Florida Atlantic University.
Since older people spend less time outside, the neighborhood environment increases in importance with age. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a key strategy to promote healthy ageing and prevent or delay the onset of disease and functional decline is to build age-friendly environments which are accessible, equitable, inclusive, safe and secure, and supportive. Contact IFA Expert Mr Rodd Bond, expert on age-friendly environments, for further information.
The IFA, with general consultative status with the United Nations and in official relations with the WHO, is committed to driving the creation of age-friendly environments globally and acting as both the secretariat and as an affiliate for the WHO Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities. This year on 31 October, the IFA Age-Friendly Environments Summit will be held at Niagara Falls, Canada to raise critical importance of age-friendly environments on health and wellbeing of ageing populations. In addition, a unique Age Friendly Village will be on display throughout the IFA 15th Global Conference on Ageing from 1-3 November to showcase services, products, and devices that offer beneficial outcomes in the care and support of older people. Register for both events at www.ifa2020.org.
Dr. Lauren Beaupre
Ms. Donna Butts
Health and Ageing
Prof. Maria Barcikowska
Dr. Sandra Hirst
Seniors and Healthcare
Liat Ayalon, Ph.D.
Formal and Informal Care for Older Adults
Health Policy Research
Mental Health Service Use and Clinical Outcomes in Older Adults