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Community environments link to cognitive aging

People are living longer than ever before, but cognitive decline threatens the quality of those later years. Now, new evidence suggests that where older adults live may help protect against dementia and Alzheimer's disease. A trio of studies from the University of Michigan (U-M) found that urban and suburban neighborhoods with opportunities for socialization, physical activity and intellectual stimulation may help preserve older adults' cognitive health. "Neighborhoods matter," says lead author Jessica Finlay, PhD. "They are important spaces for older adults, and they really impact opportunities or barriers to age well in place." A research fellow at the U-M Institute for Social Research [ISR] Survey Research Center in Ann Arbor, Finlay comments that the papers "think through how neighborhoods might encourage healthy behaviors that could in turn benefit the brain, and for Alzheimer's and dementia risks, which are among the greatest fears and greatest burdens that our aging population faces."

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