On the brain: Maybe more than one way to beat cognitive decline

Published: January, 2011

As we get older, most of us will have some problems with short-term memory and processing new information. That kind of cognitive decline is the aging brain's equivalent of creaky knees. It reminds us that we're not as young as we used to be, but we manage.

Dementia, though, is a different story. If someone has dementia, it means that multiple areas of thinking are affected and that the deficits are likely to get worse. And, by definition, dementia means the deterioration in memory and other areas of thought is bad enough that the tasks and decisions of everyday life become difficult, if not impossible. Dementia has several causes, but in this country, Alzheimer's disease is the main one, and it's responsible for between 60% and 80% of dementia cases.

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