Inequalities in Mental Health, Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Among Older PeopleInequalities in Mental Health, Cognitive Impairement and Dementia Among Older People
This report was funded through the Department of Health and written by Sorcha Daly and Dr Jessica Allen.
The likelihood of having good physical and mental health in later life in England is not evenly distributed across the population and there is a social class gradient in life expectancy, and disability free life expectancy.
This report focuses on inequalities in the experience and prevalence of poor mental health, cognitive impairment and dementia and the impact of social isolation, lack of mental stimulation and physical activity, before and after retirement, and in later old age. These issues can exacerbate the risks of poor mental health, cognitive impairment and dementia in later life and are experienced disproportionately by people in lower socio economic groups.
The report also provides a brief summary of life course social determinants that increase the risk of poor mental health, early onset of cognitive decline and the symptoms of dementia. In particular, the report examines the role of ‘cognitive reserve’, built throughout the life course, through educational and employment opportunities, and providing older people with a wider and more flexible set of skills, abilities and resources to delay onset of cognitive decline and dementia, and to cope better with the conditions should they occur.
The report also makes recommendations, at a national and local policy level, in addition to providing example interventions for action on the social determinants of poor mental health, cognitive decline and dementia.
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