A new study has found that the brain function begins to deteriorate much earlier than previously thought – with changes to memory, reasoning and comprehension skills occurring in our 40s, rather than our 60s.
The 10-year international study – published online by the medical journal BMJ on January 6 – observed 5,198 men and 2,192 women since 1997.
Cognitive functions were assessed three times over the study period, with findings revealing a 3.6 per cent decline in mental reasoning in men aged between 45 and 49, alongside a 9.6 per cent decline in those aged between 65 and 70.
Increasing life expectancy prompted the research, with researchers claiming that "understanding cognitive ageing will be one of the challenges of this century".
The study's authors believe that the results highlight the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles – particularly cardiovascular health – to those in younger age brackets.
"What is good for our hearts is also good for our heads," researchers added.
Medical expenses can increase as we get older – and with life expectancy continuing to improve in Australia, some may find private health insurance cover beneficial.
Not only can private health insurance offer reduced hospital waiting times, but also preventative measures such as visits to the optometrist or dentist.