Social Network Characteristics and Cognition in Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Impact Factor: 3.21). 12/2004; 59(6):P278-84. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/59.6.P278
Source: PubMed


We examined the relationship between social network characteristics and global cognitive status in a community-based sample of 354 adults aged 50+ and with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores of 28+ at baseline. Multivariate analyses indicated that interaction in larger social networks related to better maintenance of MMSE scores and reduced odds of decline to population-based lower quartile MMSE scores at follow-up 12 years later. At follow-up, higher levels of interpersonal activity (more frequent contacts in larger social networks) and exposure to emotional support independently related positively to MMSE. The findings suggest that interaction in larger social networks is a marker that portends less cognitive decline, and that distinct associational paths link interpersonal activity and emotional support to cognitive function.

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    • " Also Bosma et al . ( 2003 ) showed that lower education and little cognitively stimulating jobs contributed to a higher cognitive decline . Beyond education and activity , other variables have been associated with cognitive functioning . Specifically , elderly receiving more social support ( Bourne et al . , 2010 ) , with larger social networks ( Holtzman et al . , 2004 ; Green et al . , 2008 ) and married ( van Gelder et al . , 2006 ; Karlamangla et al . , 2009 ) had lower cognitive decline . In this study , beyond the 26% of variability in cognitive performance explained by age and education , household and neighborhood indicators , namely outdoor mobility increases the explained variability to 30% , "
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    ABSTRACT: Human development is a bidirectional, person-context relational process, but scarce evidence is available about the relation between the individual variability across the life-span and the neighborhood ecological assets. Therefore, it is important that research focus not only on personal characteristics but on ecological assets as well. This way this study aims to analyze the association between neighborhood ecological assets categorized into four dimensions: human, physical or institutional, social or collective activity, accessibility, and the individual functioning. A 3% sample of residents aged 65 years and older in two downtown and three uptown parishes stratified by age and sex was interviewed at home using a protocol that included the Portuguese version of the Barthel Index in basic activities of daily living (BADL), the Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale (IADL), the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), and the Geriatric Depression Scale-15 items (GDS) for evaluating functionality, cognitive performance, and depression. The 162 participants were aged on average 75 years (sd = 7.0), 54% were women and 90% had less than 7 years of education. The majority of participants were independent in BADL (M = 90; sd = 17.7) and moderately dependent in IADL (M = 13, sd = 6.0), 20% showed cognitive impairment and a mean score of 8 (sd = 2.1) in GDS-15. After controlling for the effect of socio-demographic characteristics, functionality, and cognitive performance decreases in persons with worst outdoor mobility. On the other hand depressive symptoms are less common as the number of recreation opportunities, namely associative groups (cultural, educative, professional), increases. These results suggest that aging policies and practices must be ecologically embedded.
    Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 09/2015; 7(156):1-8. DOI:10.3389/fnagi.2015.00156 · 4.00 Impact Factor
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    • "Sustaining an active lifestyle, and consequently using cognitive mechanisms, protects against cognitive decline and dementia [7] [8] [9] [10]. Social engagement may be viewed from this perspective as a form of everyday activity that is cognitively stimulating [11]. There have been numerous studies illustrating the effect of social engagement on cognition in ageing. "
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    ABSTRACT: Social engagement is a lifestyle factor that has received much attention in preventative research. Numerous studies in the current literature have argued the importance of social engagement in ageing, particularly for cognitive health. One key example of social engagement in later life is the role of a grandparent. This role promotes a socially active lifestyle that may be beneficial to cognitive ageing. Recent research has found that spending some time with grandchildren is beneficial; however, the pressures and responsibilities characteristic of this role should also be taken into consideration, as they may have opposing effects on cognitive health. Given the current popularity of grandparenting as a form of childcare, the interests of the grandparents and the impact on ageing health need to be carefully considered.
    Maturitas 11/2014; 80(2). DOI:10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.10.017 · 2.94 Impact Factor
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    • "As a result, indices of network structure typically conflate different types of social relationships e so that they fail to differentiate between the effects of individual, or one-on-one, engagement (i.e., with other well-known individuals; e.g., a spouse, child, friend or relative) and the effects of engagement with broader social groups (e.g., one's wider family, recreational clubs, voluntary and church groups). Moreover, the majority of studies tend to place greater emphasis on the former (e.g., see Bennett et al., 2006; Crooks et al., 2008; Ertel et al., 2008; Fratiglioni et al., 2000; Giles et al., 2012; Green et al., 2008; Holtzman et al., 2004). Indeed, where group engagement is measured, the data tends to be coded for its presence or absence and treated as an equivalent construct to engagement with individuals , often resulting in the two constructs being collapsed into a single social network index (Barnes et al., 2004; Bassuk et al., 1999; Seeman et al., 2001; Zunzenugui et al., 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Aligned with research in the social capital and general health literature, a large body of evidence shows that older people who are more socially active have better cognitive integrity and are less vulnerable to cognitive decline. The present research addresses the question of whether the type of social engagement (group-based vs. individual) has differential effects on these cognitive health outcomes. Drawing on population data (N = 3413) from three waves (i.e., Waves 3, 4 and 5) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, we investigated the independent contribution of group and individual engagement in predicting cognitive functioning four years later. Hierarchical linear regression was used entering age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and physical health as covariates. The final model, controlling for initial cognitive function and social engagement (both group and individual) showed that only group engagement made a significant, sustained, and unique contribution to subsequent cognitive function. Furthermore, the effects of group engagement were stronger with increasing age. These findings extend previous work on the social determinants of health by pinpointing the types of relationships that are particularly beneficial in protecting cognitive health. The fact that group engagement optimized health outcomes, and that this was especially the case with increasing age, has important implications for directing community resources to keep older adults mentally active and independent for longer.
    Social Science & Medicine 08/2014; 120:57-66. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.08.037 · 2.89 Impact Factor
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