Although declines in cognitive capacity are assumed to be a characteristic of aging, increasing evidence shows that it is age-related disease, rather than age itself, that causes cognitive impairment. Even so, older age is a primary risk factor for cognitive decline, and with individuals living longer as a result of medical advances, cognitive impairment and dementia are increasing in prevalence. On March 26 to 27, 2018, the American Geriatrics Society convened a conference in Bethesda, MD, to explore cognitive impairment across the subspecialties. Bringing together representatives from several subspecialties, this was the third of three conferences, supported by a U13 grant from the National Institute on Aging, to aid recipients of Grants for Early Medical/Surgical Specialists' Transition to Aging Research (GEMSSTAR) in integrating geriatrics into their subspecialties. Scientific sessions focused on the impact of cognitive impairment, sensory contributors, comorbidities, links between delirium and dementia, and issues of informed consent in cognitively impaired populations. Discussions highlighted the complexity not only of cognitive health itself, but also of the bidirectional relationship between cognitive health and the health of other organ systems. Thus, conference participants noted the importance of multidisciplinary team science in future aging research. This article summarizes the full conference report, "The Impact of Cognitive Impairment Across Specialties," and notes areas where GEMSSTAR scholars can contribute to progress as they embark on their careers in aging research. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:2011-2017, 2019.
Keywords: Aging; delirium; dementia; interdisciplinary research; research ethics.
© 2019 The American Geriatrics Society.