Cognition after 75yrs: Uganda Medical Association’s findings on cognitive abilities as one ages

Uganda Medical Association (UMA)’s request, before the Legal and Parliamentary Affair’s Committee, to offer a scientific opinion on whether an individual over 75yrs still possesed cognitivly viable abilities to lead others was bound to be misconstrued as a political move to posture the association in-light of an industrial action it had declared only weeks prior for doctors in public health faciliities.

An opinion that seemed to suggest that an individual in old age had viable cognitive abilities that could be relied upon would have been seen as an outright endorsement of the President who’s intending to run for elective office come 2021.

As it stand now, the Presiednt would be ineligible to stand. Uganda’s contitution bars anyone above 75yrs to run for the office of President. The current President would be 77yrs.

Uganda Medical Association meet Speaker Kadaga at Uganda parliament - Photo by Observer Media Ltd

It would be a risky bet for UMA to be viewed as a political vehicle of the ruling party, the NRM. And so the association’s report steered well clear of such a move.

With the Uganda Radio Network (URN) part-quoting the report’s contents as reading —

The differences seen in the degree to which an individual’s cognitive functions change with age are due in part to a lifetime of differences in experiences, health status, lifestyle, education, attitudinal and emotional factors, social economic status and genetics.”

UMA’s report was based on a number of parameters, amongst them being (1) speed of information processing as one ages, (2) attention, (3) capacity for processing.

Dr Ekwaro Obuku, UMA’s president, summed-up the findings with “following the scientific evidences available, people aspiring for highest office in the land should be subjected to tests.” And UMA was ready to provide the service at no cost.

Here’s brief summary of the key points to know about the report’s findings.

¥ In general, there is a cognitive functions as one ages, and the decline is a complex process that is neither linear nor constant

¥ As life expectancy is increasing, means careful consideration needs to be given to what defines cognitive aging younger older adults as compared to the oldest older adults

¥ It’s possible that aging can be successful without deleterious effects.

¥ There is significant inter-individual and intra-individual variability in age related changes in cognitive abilities.


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