Accumulating evidence suggests that levels of inflammation, an immune response, increase with age throughout the body and the brain. The effects of inflammation on the brain, both acute and chronic, have been associated with cognitive decline and risk of dementia in older adults. Factors believed to increase inflammation include certain health-related behaviors, such as smoking, poor diet, and inactivity as well as health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, most of which require medical intervention and monitoring. As such, nurses and healthcare professionals are likely to encounter patients who are at a high risk for future development of inflammation-related cognitive decline. A review of inflammatory processes and their relation to cognitive function in older adults is provided, along with factors that may increase or reduce inflammation. Implications for practice and research are discussed.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Andrea C. Sartori, MA, at email@example.com. She is a doctoral candidate in medical/clinical psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL.
David E. Vance, PhD MGS, is an associate professor at the School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL.
Larry Z. Slater, PhD RN-BC CCRN, is a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL.
Michael Crowe, PhD, is an assistant professor in Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL.
This review was supported by the UAB Edward R. Roybal Center for Translational Research in Aging and Mobility (NIH/NIA Grant 2 P30 AG022838-06) and a UAB Center for Aging Research Scholarship.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.