Social network characteristics and cognition in middle-aged and older adults.
ABSTRACT 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.
- SourceAvailable from: S. Alexander Haslam[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
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 · 2.56 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Research in gerontology has demonstrated mixed effects of social support on cognitive decline and dementia: Social support has been shown to be protective in some studies, but not in others. Moreover, little is known about the underlying mechanisms between social support and cognitive functioning. We investigate one of the possible mechanisms, and argue that subjective appraisals rather than received amounts of social support affect cognitive functioning. Loneliness is seen as an unpleasant experience that occurs when a person’s network of relationships is felt to be deficient in some important way. As such, loneliness describes the extent to which someone’s needs are not being met and thus provides a subjective assessment of support quality. We expect that receiving instrumental and emotional support reduces loneliness, which in turn preserves cognitive functioning. Data are from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) and include 2,255 Dutch participants aged 55 to 85 over a period of six years. Respondents were measured every three years. Cognitive functioning was assessed with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Coding Task, and the Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices. The analytical approach comprised latent growth mediation models. Frequent emotional support related to reduced feelings of loneliness and better cognitive functioning. Increases in emotional support also directly enhanced cognitive performance. The protective effect of emotional support was strongest amongst adults aged 65 years and older. Increase in instrumental support did not buffer cognitive decline, instead there were indications for faster decline. After ruling out the possibility of reversed causation, we conclude that emotional support relationships are a more powerful protector of cognitive decline than instrumental support relationships.Social Science [?] Medicine 12/2013; 98:116-124. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.002 · 2.56 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We tested the hypothesis that social engagement is associated with larger brain volumes in a cohort study of 348 older male former lead manufacturing workers (n = 305) and population-based controls (n = 43), age 48 to 82. Social engagement was measured using a summary scale derived from confirmatory factor analysis. The volumes of 20 regions of interest (ROIs), including total brain, total gray matter (GM), total white matter (WM), each of the four lobar GM and WM, and 9 smaller structures were derived from T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance images. Linear regression models adjusted for age, education, race/ethnicity, intracranial volume, hypertension, diabetes, and control (versus lead worker) status. Higher social engagement was associated with larger total brain and GM volumes, specifically temporal and occipital GM, but was not associated with WM volumes except for corpus callosum. A voxel-wise analysis supported an association in temporal lobe GM. Using longitudinal data to discern temporal relations, change in ROI volumes over five years showed null associations with current social engagement. Findings are consistent with the hypothesis that social engagement preserves brain tissue, and not consistent with the alternate hypothesis that persons with smaller or shrinking volumes become less socially engaged, though this scenario cannot be ruled out.Journal of aging research 09/2012; 2012:512714. DOI:10.1155/2012/512714