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Decline and the
Courtney Roberts
• Stagnant and poorer cognitive function in the elderly
• Technology can decrease cognitive and physical activity
• Fitness is needed for good brain performance
• Sedentary forms of work, transportation, and leisure undermine fitness
The Brain
• Cognitive function= brain
• Works even when person rests
• Works harder when person thinks,
speaks, reads, acts, etc.
• Body needs to be able to
deliver oxygen & glucose to
the cerebrovascular system
and needs to route blood to
the active neurons in order to
properly function
• Depends on cardiovascular,
respiratory, metabolic fitness
Default American Lifestyle
• Physical activity in work, transportation, & recreation
• Gas engines, electric motors, and electronic communication
make travel, work, play, and commerce sedentary
• Shift from home-made to manufactured and restaurant
• Food being made for production, transportation, marketing, and
convenience, NOT nutrition
• As people age, they experience severe problems
controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar or
delivering oxygen on demand
• Bottom line= American lifestyle is unhealthy
Default Lifestyle and the Elderly
• Muscles become atrophied and joints get inflamed and
• Bones become brittle and misaligned
• Hearts grow weak and arteries get clogged and hardened
• They begin to use medication for…
• Blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, bowel movements,
urination, stomach acidity, reflux, and to stifle anxiety, depression,
and pain
Threats to Cognitive Function
• BMI: provides the most visible and readily measured sign of
hidden physiological trends
• Low or declining BMI in elderly people usually indicates an
unhealthy loss of muscle and bone as well as fat
• Cognitive dysfunction can stem from BMI’s relationship with
other factors
• High blood pressure, high ratios of low-density to high-density
lipoprotein, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, poor blood sugar
control, oxidative stress, heart disease, stroke, and deep vein
• Low physical activity and a higher BMI has a direct association
with dysfunction because of low aerobic capacity
• Accumulators:
• Gather many small effects into one large one and once present they
tend to stay present
• Exercise, eating habits, body mass, blood pressure, blood
triglyceride, cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance
• Influence body’s ability to meet brain’s metabolic needs
• Represent the sum of many small consequences over time
and provide little or no feedback for protective behavioral
• The overlaying of medications, protraction of their use, and
accrual of their side effects and interactions
• Creates problems for seniors because they have had the
longest time to accumulate problems and longest time to
take the drugs
• More exposed to complications and interactions and more
vulnerable to medications
• Seriously threatens cognitive function of seniors
• Some drugs may produce dementia and delirium
• Some drugs have effects that can impair memory, learning,
concentration & lucidity
The Baby Boomers
• Size of baby boom generation will reshape culture and
standards of daily life
• As physical demands of life decline, so will levels of
physical abilities
• Culture, buildings, products, and services will have to adapt to
lower average physical abilities
• Social norms and built environment adapt to low physical abilities
and being to discourage activities that create abilities
• Maintaining physical function requires determination to
overcome the default lifestyle
• Aging population may accelerate trend to lower physical
abilities and will therefor lower cognitive function
• This will lead to reduction of physical demands on everyone in
Future Implications
• Future for cognitive functions
remains uncertain, but signs are not
• The aging of the baby boomers
combined with the body mass
trends implies that the number of
diabetics will increase by 86% in the
next 25 years
• Social movements need to work to
make stairs more accessible and
appealing and communities more
walkable and they need to
promote small changes in lifestyle
• People are being encouraged to
promote healthier diets and activities
• The majority of adult Americans will
either be old or obese
• In order to override the default,
people will need determination
and creativity to find a healthier
way of living

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