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The Challenges of Cognitive Aging: Integrating Approaches from Science to Intergenerational Relationships1


The individual and social challenges created by population aging and especially the growing number of people labeled with dementia demand new innovative and comprehensive approaches. A broader integrative biology needs to replace reductionist, overly simplistic biomedical solutions that dominate today's scientific discourse, particularly with regards to cognitive aging. Alzheimer's disease is a heterogeneous syndrome characterized more fully at a system rather than molecular level. Coordinated scientific and community responses are needed including new attention to intergenerational relationships, innovative learning organizations, and empowering health practices. The Intergenerational School is a successful public charter school which provides learning opportunities for elementary school children and adults of various ages, including those with dementia. InterWell is a planned primary care and public health practice to be associated with the school. Both represent innovations that balance the sciences and the humanities in address growing social challenges associated with changes in population demographics and climate.