Article

Late-Life Social Activity and Cognitive Decline in Old Age

Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.
Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (Impact Factor: 2.96). 11/2011; 17(6):998-1005. DOI: 10.1017/S1355617711000531
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

We examined the association of social activity with cognitive decline in 1138 persons without dementia at baseline with a mean age of 79.6 (SD = 7.5) who were followed for up to 12 years (mean = 5.2; SD = 2.8). Using mixed models adjusted for age, sex, education, race, social network size, depression, chronic conditions, disability, neuroticism, extraversion, cognitive activity, and physical activity, more social activity was associated with less cognitive decline during average follow-up of 5.2 years (SD = 2.7). A one point increase in social activity score (range = 1-4.2; mean = 2.6; SD = 0.6) was associated with a 47% decrease in the rate of decline in global cognitive function (p < .001). The rate of global cognitive decline was reduced by an average of 70% in persons who were frequently socially active (score = 3.33, 90th percentile) compared to persons who were infrequently socially active (score = 1.83, 10th percentile). This association was similar across five domains of cognitive function. Sensitivity analyses revealed that individuals with the lowest levels of cognition or with mild cognitive impairment at baseline did not drive this relationship. These results confirm that more socially active older adults experience less cognitive decline in old age.

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    • "This is an important strength of this report that in a cultural background ofTaiwan that 45.4% of the elderly people do regular physical activity (at least once per week) in modest amounts. Many studies have focused on the association between cognition and social activities in healthy people or patients with mild cognitive impairment and have shown that social activities and social support are correlated with better cognitive performance.12131415. In this study, we found that social activities at least once per week could decrease the risk of dementia. "
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    • " occur and are difficult to empirically disentangle , in many studies it is hardly certain which mechanism is at play . In a similar vein , being embedded in large personal networks is believed to enhance cognitive functioning in older adults ( Fratiglioni et al . , 2004 ; Holtzman et al . , 2004 ) , as it was shown to increase social activities ( James et al . , 2011 ; Krueger et al . , 2009 ; Wang et al . , 2002 ; Zunzunegui et al . , 2003 ) , reduce stress ( Dickinson et al . , 2011 ; Wilson et al . , 2011 ) , and provide intellectual stimulation ( Hultsch et al . , 1999 ) . But again , size of the network is only indirectly argued to relate to cognitive outcomes and multiple explanations of the u"
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