Dodging Dementia: How More of Us are Getting at Least a Dozen Happy Years After 65

You’ve turned 65 and exited middle age. What are the chances you’ll develop cognitive impairment or dementia in the years ahead?

New research about “cognitive life expectancy” — how long older adults live with good versus declining brain health — shows that after age 65 men and women spend more than a dozen years in good cognitive health, on average. And, over the past decade, that time span has been expanding.

By contrast, cognitive challenges arise in a more compressed time frame in later life, with mild cognitive impairment (problems with memory, decision-making or thinking skills) lasting about four years, on average, and dementia (Alzheimer’s disease or other related conditions) occurring over 1½ to two years.

Even when these conditions surface, many seniors retain an overall sense of well-being, according to new research presented last month at the Population Association of America’s annual meeting.

“The majority of cognitively impaired years are happy ones, not unhappy ones,” said Anthony Bardo, a co-author of that study and assistant professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky-Lexington.

– Alternet

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