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National Institute on Aging: Transforming Aging Through Research

NIA, one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of NIH, leads the federal government in conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. NIA is also the lead federal agency for research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Read and share this infographic to learn more about NIA research advances.

About NIA infographic. Full transcript below.

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It's no secret that aging is a part of life. Whether it's today, tomorrow, or years from now, we all hope to become part of a growing population of older people. That's why today's research is critical to how we age now and in the future.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH supports and conducts research to better understand the aging process, as well as diseases, conditions, and needs associated with advancing years.

NIA-supported research has led to many important scientific discoveries about aging.

  • Staying Mobile. Regular, balanced, and moderate physical activity significantly reduces risk of major mobility disability.
  • Detecting Signs of Alzheimer’s. Brain imaging and biomarkers enable us to see changes that may occur years, even decades, before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias first appear.
  • Enhancing Lifespan and Healthspan. Interventions—involving types of foods and diets, drugs, and hormones—can lead to longer, healthier lifespan in mice. Some of these approaches are now being tested in people, too.
  • Training for Cognitive Benefits. Training on specific reasoning and speed of processing tasks—two key indicators of cognition—can improve performance on these tasks under controlled conditions. Benefits on reasoning were shown to last at least five years, while benefits on speed of processing persisted for up to the ten years.
  • Physical Activity, Aging, and Diabetes. Physical activity is particularly important in preventing diabetes for adults older than 60. Weight loss through dietary changes and increased physical activity, and treatment with a diabetes medication, can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. 
  • Identifying Alzheimer’s Genes. More than 25 genes involved in Alzheimer’s disease have been found, leading to studies into how they may contribute to the disease.
  • Supporting Caregivers. A support intervention can improve the health and well-being of Alzheimer’s caregivers in an ethnically-diverse population.
  • Lowering Cardiovascular Risks. Controlling blood pressure, even below the recommended target, can reduce heart attacks, stroke, and death in people age 50+.

These advances, and those to come, are vital to our quest to understand how we age and the steps we can take to make our later years as healthy as possible.

Learn more about research supported and conducted by the NIA, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).