Why our ageing brains require custom care

New Delhi: Researchers propose a new model for studying age-related cognitive decline-one that’s tailored to the individual, a study reports. People are living longer than ever before, but brain health isn’t keeping up. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to ageing brain health, says Lee Ryan, professor and head of the University of Arizona’s psychology department.

A number of studies have looked at individual risk factors that may contribute to cognitive decline with age, such as chronic stress and cardiovascular disease. However, those factors may affect different people in different ways depending on other variables, such as genetics and lifestyle, Ryan says.

In a paper in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, Ryan and colleagues advocate for a more personalized approach, borrowing principles of precision medicine in an effort to better understand, prevent, and treat age-related cognitive decline.

“Aging is incredibly complex, and most of the research out there was focusing on one aspect of ageing at a time,” Ryan says. Although most older adults-around 85 percent-will not experience Alzheimer’s disease in their lifetimes, some level of cognitive decline is considered a normal part of ageing. The majority of people in their 60s or older experience some cognitive impairment, Ryan says.

In their paper, Ryan and co-authors present a precision ageing model meant to be a starting point to guide future research. It focuses primarily on three areas: broad risk categories; brain drivers; and genetic variants. The broader risk category includes within it several individual risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

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