The 6 Factors that Reduce Cognitive Decline in Old Age and the 4 Factors that Predict Earlier-than-average Decline


Researchers have identified 6 risk factors that everyone should be aware of. The following variables reduce the risk of cognitive decline in old age according to Merriam, Gafarella & Baumgartner (2007, Learning in Adulthood, p. 371)

  1. absence of cardiovuscular and other chronic diseases
  2. living in favorable environmental circumstances
  3. substantial involvement in activities
  4. maintenance of high levels of perceptual processing speed into old age
  5. being married to a spouse of high cognitive status
  6. rating one’s self as satisfied with one’s life

Schaie et al (1994, Perceived Intellectual Performance Change over Seven Years. Journal of gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 49(3), 103-118) cited by Merriam, Gafarella & Baumgartner (2007, Learning in Adulthood, p. 371) identified 4 factors that predict earlier-than-average cognitive decline

  1. significant decrease in being flexible in one’s approach to life
  2. low educational attainment
  3. being male
  4. a low satisfaction with life success

It is certainly worth emphasizing that it clearly is about one’s beliefs and character traits about half of the time. Cherishing principles, being stubborn and pessimistic, failing to look on the bright side all seem to contribute to premature cognitive decline.

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