As the average lifespan continues to climb because of advances in medical care, there is a greater need to understand the factors that contribute to quality of life in the elderly. The capacity to live independently is highly significant in this regard, but is compromised by cognitive dysfunction. Aging is associated with decreases in cognitive function, including impairments in episodic memory and executive functioning. The prefrontal cortex appears to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of advancing age. Although the mechanism of age-related cognitive decline is not yet known, age-related inflammatory changes are likely to play a role. New insights from preclinical and clinical research may give rise to novel therapeutics which may have efficacy in slowing or preventing cognitive decline with advancing age.
Keywords: aging; cognitive dysfunction; elderly; inflammation; quality of life.