Cognitive aging: from observational studies to intervention (program grant)

PI: Lars Bäckman, lars.backman.1@ki.se

In this research program, we seek to identify factors that determine why some older people remain cognitively and physically healthy well into their 80s, whereas others show decline much earlier.

The proportion of people who reach old age has grown markedly in the past decades, and this change in population structure will be magnified in the years to come. In particular, the number of people who live into their 90s and above will change drastically. Because increasing adult age is the most prominent risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia disorders, the number of people with such disorders will also rise markedly. To minimize the impact of these developments on public health, we therefore need to know more about factors that increase the risk for dementia (some of which might be modifiable) and factors that promote successful cognitive aging.

Most studies in the program are observational and use data from the large-scale, longitudinal population-based Swedish National study of Aging and Care in Kungsholmen (SNAC-K). The program also includes a number of intervention studies on older people who are at an increased risk of developing dementia and those who are not. The four main research areas are: (a) individual differences in the rate of cognitive decline in normal aging, (b) postponing dementia onset: risk and protective factors, (c) the body-mind connection, and (d) cognitive interventions.

The program is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life, and Welfare (Forte).