While air pollution is not good for anybody, it can be especially dangerous to older adults' health, as well as the quality of their cognitive abilities, according to Jennifer Ailshire, a National Institute on Aging postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Biodemography and Population Health and the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California. Ailshire looked into the effects of bad air on seniors' brainpower in a recent study.
"As a result of age-related declines in health and functioning, older adults are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of exposure to unhealthy air," Ailshire said. "Air pollution has been linked to increased cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and even premature death, in older populations, and there is emerging evidence that exposure to particulate air pollution may have adverse effects on brain health and functioning as well."
To arrive at these findings, Ailshire looked at data on 14,793 Caucasian, African American and Hispanic men and women who were at least 50 years of age. The researchers found that individuals who lived in areas where the air pollution levels were high also performed poorer on cognitive function tests.
Based on Ailshire's findings, older adults who reside in major cities and other areas where the air quality is poor may want to take an IQ test and see if it is time to consider moving.