Hillblom Network for the Prevention of Age-Associated Cognitive Decline
Cognitive decline associated with aging is a major public health issue, draining billions of dollars from our health care system, and creating severe burdens for older individuals and their families. Even mild decline in cognitive abilities can cause impairments in daily functioning, increase risk of falls, lead to poor financial and health care decisions, and exacerbate the burden placed on families. We know, however, that age-associated cognitive decline is by no means inevitable, indicating that a better understanding of factors that either protect from or increase risk for decline can have a huge public health impact. The causes of age-associated cognitive decline are complex and multifactorial, and include abnormal protein aggregation, chronic inflammation, neuronal loss, alterations of myelin, cerebrovascular disease, and neurotransmitter changes. These mechanisms are influenced by genetic, epigenetic, environmental, and lifestyle variables. Many of these contributing factors are currently modifiable, however, offering potentially significant opportunities to help older individuals maintain optimum brain health. The overarching goal of this Hillblom Network is to unite University of California researchers from across the state toward the goal of understanding, predicting, preventing and treating age-associated cognitive decline.