Advice & Impact

The LBC Practical Guide to Ageing Well

Cognitive decline is one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st Century. Losing thinking skills is one of our greatest fears about ageing. It is also the main reason why people lose their independence.

We need solutions, but do not fully understand why cognitive functions decline with age, or why marked differences in these changes are seen between individuals across the life-course. Without this knowledge, we are powerless to act. The Lothian Birth Cohorts aim to understand how and why cognition changes happen throughout the life-course and during ageing itself. Its ultimate aim is to provide information towards a rational basis for practical interventions that might slow age-related mental decline and therefore improve the quality of later life.

In this section we look at how research on the Lothian Birth Cohorts has offered us real insights into what we can and can’t change about the ageing brain and how we can look at ageing with the benefit of the knowledge and understanding about ageing gained from the Lothian Birth Cohorts.

This guide is for everyone, younger and older, practitioner and politician, just with an interest in thinking about the ageing brain and how society can potentially ease the burden of loss of thinking ability as we age. Our research can help to:

  • Advise people on what they can do throughout their lives to protect their cognitive health
  • Provide health and social care professionals with the ability to improve advice on, and management of, age-related cognitive impairment, reducing its impact on patients’ lives;
  • Provide an evidence base for changes to healthcare and education policy to maximise people’s chances of ageing successfully;  
  • Provide information to help businesses develop working practices that support older customers with age-related cognitive decline;
  • Contribute knowledge that might help in the development of future evidence-based interventions to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of age-related cognitive impairment.
  • Pioneer new techniques and offer new perspectives in complex cross-disciplinary research of lasting benefit to the scientific community.


Our research has been featured in policy documents, third sector literature, the national and international press, an art exhibition and a play, leading to the term cognitive ageing being used in both BBC television and in policy summaries. Results have attracted the attention of senior policy makers at a regional and national government level. As well as an unparalleled resource for the study of ageing, leading to a growing number of discoveries at the cutting edge of ageing research, the Lothian Birth Cohort will leave a lasting social, cultural and historical legacy, captured through unique collaborations with artists and writers.


As well as publishing our results through papers in scientific journals, we also disseminate the results to the research community through giving talks and posters to scientific conferences. In addition, we introduce the project and its findings to other audiences, including the public, policy makers, industry and other groups who would be interested in The Disconnected Mind and its findings.