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


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.

Download full-text


Available from: Bryan D James
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Evidence of an association between lifestyle and marital status and risk of dementia is limited in Asia. Methods In this nationwide population-based cross-sectional survey, participants were selected by computerized random sampling from all 19 counties in Taiwan. A total of 10432 residents were assessed by a door-to-door in-person survey, among whom 7035 were normal and 929 were diagnosed with dementia using the criteria recommended by National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association. Premorbid lifestyle habits and demographic data including marital status were compared between normal subjects and participants with dementia. Results After adjustment for age, gender, education, body mass index, smoking, drinking, marital status, sleep habits, exercise, social engagement and co-morbidities including hypertension, diabetes and cerebrovascular diseases, an increased risk for dementia was found in people with widow or widower status (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.15–1.77) and people who used to take a nap in the afternoon (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.02–1.72). Decreased risk was found in people with the habit of regular exercise (OR 0.12, 95% CI 0.09–0.16), adequate night sleep (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.39–0.76) and regular social engagement (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.36–0.77). Conclusions Our results provide preliminary evidence of possible risk-reduction effects for dementia, including regular exercise even in modest amounts, social engagement and adequate night sleep, whereas people with the widow/widower status or who used to take an afternoon nap might have increased risk of dementia.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · PLoS ONE
  • Source
    • "Besides the fundamental desire for companionship that every individual craves, there is a need for additional support and assistance during the later years of an individual's life in order to carry out certain tasks. Studies indicates that after controlling for other factors, the rate of cognitive decline may be reduced by up to 70% in persons who are frequently socially active compared to persons who are infrequently socially active (James, Wilson, Barnes, & Bennett, 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This article develops a new model for understanding the aging experience. Drawing upon aging literature from the chronological, biological, mental, and social aging perspectives, the model offered is an integrated perspective that provides better understanding of the relationship between chronological age and an individual's perceived age. The article provides evidence of ways that consumers are trying to "time bend" and change today's perceived reality of aging. The article concludes with a discussion of implications for the health care industry and provides examples of how some businesses seem to already be looking at aging and health related issues through this lens.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Health Marketing Quarterly
  • Source
    • " 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"
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Stronger engagement of older adults in social activities and greater embeddedness in networks is often argued to buffer cognitive decline and lower risks of dementia. One of the explanations is that interaction with other people trains the brain, thereby enhancing cognitive functioning. However, research on the relationship between personal networks and cognitive functioning is not yet conclusive. While previous studies have focused on the size of personal networks as a proxy of cognitive stimulation, little attention has been paid to the complexity of the personal network. Adults embedded in a broad range of network relationships (i.e., various relationship types) are likely to be exposed to a wider range of stimuli than adults embedded in a homogeneous network including similar relationship types. We expect that higher numbers of personal relationship types rather than a higher number of similar contacts relate to higher levels of cognitive functioning and slower cognitive decline. Data are from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) and include 2959 Dutch participants aged 54 to 85 at baseline in 1992 and six follow-ups covering a time span of twenty years. Cognitive functioning is assessed with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), and for network complexity we use the Social Network Index. We test our expectations using fixed-effects regression models. The results reveal that a reduction in network complexity is associated with a reduction in cognitive functioning, which is neither explained by size of the network nor by presence of specific relationship types. However, enhanced complexity has only a marginal buffering effect on decline in cognitive functioning. We conclude that network characteristics and cognitive functioning are intertwined and that their association is mostly cross-sectional in nature.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Social Science & Medicine
Show more