Dementia is one of the leading cause of disability in the elderly. One of the most intriguing challenge is nowadays maintaining good cognitive function and avoiding dementia in the aging population, but pharmacological intervention has no role in the prevention. It is of primary interest to study modifiable lifestyle factors that can positively influence cognitive functions in the elderly. In this article the concepts of "successful aging" and "cognitive reserve" were examined in relation to the role of education and midlife experiences. An active lifestyle seems beneficial both for cognitive function than for dementia at any age. A large number of observational, convergent longitudinal data confirms that physical as well as mental activities can reduce the cognitive decline and the incidence of dementia. Also working experience and retirement could be possible factors influencing cognitive functions and dementia, giving useful indications for future improvements for older workers.
Keywords: Aging; dementia; cognitive impairment; physical activity; mental activity; cognitive reserve.