Add more life to your years, not years to your life says Chief Editor of new specialty on Aging Psychiatry

Gianfranco Spalletta leads new specialty on Aging Psychiatry in Frontiers in Psychiatry

Elderly man plays chess with his grandchildren

A new specialty on Aging Psychiatry in Frontiers in Psychiatry aims to find solutions to the problems faced by more than 20% of adults over 60 years old who the World Health Organization estimates are suffering from some form of mental or neurological disorder.

“A prevention perspective (primary prevention) is one of the main topics that should be addressed within this section when it comes to investigating and validating early aging biomarkers –neuroimaging, genetics, biochemical, behavioral, and others– that will predict the risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders in late-life,” says Dr. Gianfranco Spalletta, of the IRCCS Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome who is leading the new specialty.

Dr. Gianfranco Spalletta

Aging Psychiatry aims to stimulate groundbreaking discourse that improves our mental and neurological health in later life. When asked about the importance of research in this area, Dr. Spalletta says: “Many older adults are living longer with more efficacious treatments. When not well balanced they often suffer from soft neuropsychiatric symptoms or even more severe disorders. This results in maladaptive aging, frequently associated with negative personality changes or unhealthy lifestyles established in early and middle adulthood.”

Special Chief Editor Dr. Gianfranco Spalletta’s ultimate goal for the new section in Frontiers in Psychiatry is to shift the focus in old age psychiatry to “pay as much attention to health as to disease, by reflecting Ralph Paffenburger Jr’s motto: ‘adding life to your years: not just years to your life’.”

“Research should also focus on developing early identification and intervention strategies for individuals at risk of unhealthy aging trajectories as to promote healthy neuropsychiatric aging across the lifespan. This should include investigating potential pre-aging neuroanatomical signatures of increased vulnerability to mental diseases in late life and of other bodily ageing biomarkers to predict risk of age-related neuropsychiatric disorders.”

The Research Topic Understanding Brain Aging is now available. This article collection welcomes submissions investigating “risk genes”, white matter fiber tracts, and the usefulness of classical concepts of brain diseases to future clinical application, among others.

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