Long-lasting active lifestyle and successful cognitive aging in a healthy elderly population: The PROOF cohort

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2017 Dec;173(10):637-644. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2017.05.009. Epub 2017 Nov 1.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether cognitive reserve in the elderly affects the evolution of cognitive performance and what its relationship is with active lifestyles in later life.

Methods: Cognitive performance was evaluated at baseline and 8 years later in 543 participants of the PROOF cohort, initially aged 67 years. Subjects were categorized as Cognitively Elite (CE), Cognitively Normal (CN) or Cognitively Impaired (CI) at each evaluation. At follow-up, demographic data and lifestyle, including social, intellectual and physical behaviors, were collected by questionnaires.

Results: As much as 69% (n=375) remained unchanged, while 25.5% (n=138) decreased and 5.5% (n=30) improved. When present, the reduction in cognitive status was most often limited to one level, but was dependent on the initial level, affecting up to 73% of the initially CN, but only 58% of the initially CE. Cognitive stability was significantly associated with the degree of social engagement at follow-up (CE: P=0.009; CN: P=0.025).

Conclusion: In the healthy elderly, high cognitive ability predicts both cognitive ability and social involvement in later life. Cognitive decline by only one level may also extend the time to reach impairment, underlining the importance of the so-called cognitive reserve.

Keywords: Cognitive reserve; Healthy elderly; Lifestyle activities; Longitudinal study; Successful cognitive aging.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Aging / psychology
  • Cognitive Aging / physiology*
  • Cognitive Aging / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Aging / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male