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Baby Boomers Are Experiencing Greater Cognitive Decline Than Previous Generations, Study Finds

By | Ed Cara |

Baby boomers are experiencing a sharper drop in cognitive function as they age, relative to previous generations, according to a recent study. The findings not only suggest that boomers will be more likely to develop conditions like dementia than past cohorts, but future aging generations may be at a similar heightened risk.

The study, published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B late last month, looked at the cognitive test scores of over 30,000 Americans over the age of 50 who were enrolled in an existing, long-running research project by the University of Michigan, called the Health and Retirement Survey. As part of the project, volunteers were asked interview questions meant to evaluate their cognitive function every two years. Questions included counting backwards from 100 in increments of 7 and having to recall the name of recent objects they were shown. All told, the study analyzed nearly 20 years worth of test scores, collected from 1996 to 2014.

Though people do generally lose a step or two in their brain power as part of the normal aging process, the study found there was an improving trend in cognitive function across generations born before and during World War II. The study had data for the following cohorts: Greatest Generation (born 1890-1923); Early Children of Depression (born 1924-1930); Late Children of Depression (born 1931-1941); War Babies (born 1942-1947); early baby boomers (born 1948–1953); and mid baby boomers (born 1954–1959).

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