Education, brain health, and improving life opportunities for women

Abstract The paper by Lei et al. in this issue adds to the growing body of empirical evidence that education and cognitive stimulation, both in early-life and in later-life, seem especially important for cognitive health and the prevention of cognitive decline with aging. The expanding educational opportunities for girls and women in developing countries such as China over the last few decades appear to have played an important role in improving their cognitive health and, in turn, have likely expanded their opportunities to participate more fully and successfully in both work and social roles. While “curing” dementia in the coming decades seems unlikely, decreasing the risk of cognitive impairment and disability in both developed and developing countries through increasing education, life-long cognitive stimulation, and improved control of cardiovascular risk appears achievable. Success would benefit people of all ages by keeping older adults more independent and productive, and minimizing the burden of support on younger generations.