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Senator Collins Applauds New National Academies of Sciences Report on Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, applauded a new report released today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on cognitive decline and dementia titled, “Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward.”

In 2015, the National Institute on Aging asked the National Academies to participate in a two-part project focused on examining the evidence on the effectiveness, comparative effectiveness, and harms of interventions for preventing, slowing, or delaying cognitive decline and dementia. The report identifies three classes of intervention supported by evidence: cognitive training, blood pressure management for those with hypertension, and increased physical activity.

Going forward, the report makes four recommendations:

  1.  Public Health Messaging: Share the potential cognitive impacts of these three interventions  with the public.
  2. Methodological Improvements: Identify individuals at risk for dementia; include under-represented populations; include biomarkers; and begin interventions earlier and follow-up for longer periods.
  3. Highest Priorities for Future Research: Strengthen evidence for the three promising interventions.
  4. Additional Priorities for Future Research: New anti-dementia treatments; diabetes, depression, and lipid-lowering treatments; and diet, sleep quality, social engagement, and vitamin B12 plus folic acid supplements.

“This report elevates what we know about preventing cognitive decline and dementia,” said Senator Collins. “We still have more questions than answers; but the news is promising. It has long been known that physical activity is good for the body – now we can say that it is good for the brain and may delay cognitive decline, too”

As the founder and co-chair of the Senate Alzheimer’s Task Force, working to support caregivers and increase federal funding for biomedical research are among Senator Collins’ top priorities. In 2011, Senator Collins introduced the National Alzheimer’s Project Act with then-Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN). That law convened a panel of experts, who determined that $2 billion per year in research funding is needed to achieve the goal of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s by the year 2025.

This year, the National Institutes of Health is committing $1.391 billion to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research, compared to just $503 million in FY 2012. Under Senator Collins’ leadership, a bipartisan letter signed by 12 Senators was sent to the President, urging him to continue making Alzheimer’s and dementia research at NIH a top priority.