Cognitive decline in older Adults and its prevention: A review of non-pharmacological lifestyle strategies


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This review aims to examine the aspects of selected non-pharmacological lifestyle strategies on the cognitive decline in older adults and its prevention. This research was done by directing a literature review in four different databases Web of Science, Springer, MEDLINE, and Scopus. Consequently, this study evaluates the outcomes of relevant research. The results show that physical activities, such as aerobic exercises, walking, solving crosswords, adherence to Mediterranean diet, and music therapy seems to be very encouraging lifestyle intervention strategies. Results also explain that non-pharmacology lifestyle strategies should be possible and intense done simultaneously in order to be operative in the cognitive decline prevention. Moreover, randomized controlled trials are required to explore the effective types of intervention activities in the cognitive decline prevention, typical of adult’s community.


Cognitive impairment, healthy older individuals, intervention, benefits


Cognitive skills play an important role in daily life functioning of adults. Unluckily, some skills such as speed processing, problem-solving activities and memory decrease in aging process (Salthouse, 2012). There are many risk factors that appear to have great impact on the cognitive skills. These factors can be divided into non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors. The modifiable factors are education, lifestyle, head injuries and diabetes. Non-modifiable factors include genetics, gender, ethnicity and race, and age. Research shows that 60% general cognitive skills are due to genetic origin (Norton et al., 2014). However, Kuca and Klimova distribute the non-pharmacological lifestyle strategies into three influential groups that have a great impact on the cognitive decline:

  • Physical activities
  • Cognitive training
  • Healthy diet

These strategies have a good effect on the synaptic function maintenance whose loss is generally associated with the amyloid-β protein toxic form, that causes onset of adult’s diseases such as dementia. Though, non-pharmacological activities and their intensity are good factors, this synaptic protein loss and synapse may be prevented. Moreover, the physical actions can contribute to the increase of energy metabolism, vascularization, and resistance against oxidative stress that has a great impact on cognitive function (Klimova and Kuca, 2015). Recent research has also explains the positive aspects of music therapies in cognitive decline prevention.

There are results that some non-pharmacological lifestyle strategies such as resistance against Mediterranean diet or physical activities may improve cognitive adult prevention, the aim of this study is to examine the effects of selected non-pharmacological lifestyle strategies on the delay of cognitive decline in adults (Bugos et al., 2007). This is done on the basic of findings from the selected studies. Since, pharmacological intervention is relatively costly, might have adverse side effects, and pose a serious social burden, the main purpose of this review is to compare and analyze the effects of non-pharmacological strategies such as exercise/physical activities, music therapy, cognitive training (Solving crosswords), and adherence to MedDiet- on the cognitive decline prevention in adults (Maresova et al., 2016).

Methods: Literature review

In this study, methodology is based on the research of Moher et al. (2009)Thesignificant research studies were investigated by using keywords in different databases: MEDLINE, Scopus, springer, Web of Science. This review extract the research conducted in the time period from 2000-2016, with the help of following keywords:

  • Cognitive skills in adults and intervention strategies
  • Healthy adults and cognitive decline
  • Physical activities, healthy adults, cognitive decline, Mediterranean diet
  • Healthy older people
  • Cognitive decline
  • Music therapy

A research was also comprised if it resembled with the consistent time period, from 2000-2016. The selected period started from 2000 because this period when the research were conducted on ………………………………………..continued