The Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS) are population based studies of individuals aged 65 years and over living in the community, including institutions. CFAS is the only large multi-centred, population-based study in the UK that has reached sufficient maturity. There are three main studies within the CFAS group; MRC CFAS, the original study, began in 1989 with three of its sites providing a parent subset for the comparison study two decades later (CFAS II -2008 onward). In 2011 the CFAS Wales study began.
The initial aims of CFAS were: – To investigate dementia and cognitive decline in a representative sample of more than 18,000 people aged over 65 years. To describe the service needs of dementia sufferers and the degree of disability suffered. To find out which factors increase the risk of someone developing dementia, and to investigate the different diseases that cause dementia and how quickly dementia progresses.
Since 1989 life expectancy in the UK and across the globe has increased with dramatic changes in some major chronic diseases. Symptomatic treatments for dementia, specifically its most commonly diagnosed form, Alzheimer’s Disease has been adopted and there is major research in the area of early detection diagnostics and novel disease modifying therapies.
Having provided estimations of dementia occurence for the UK from its first studies CFAS was increasingly asked to provide evidence on generational change in dementia, cognition and life expectancy by the government and the public, leading to its daughter study, CFAS II. The use of CFAS in public policy decisions and in long term projections is now well established. In addition CFAS research is emerging issues such as cognitive screening, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early detection. It has a wealth of findings for comparison with the new cohort (CFAS II) data.