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December 28, 2004

Social resources and cognitive decline in a population of older African Americans and whites

December 28, 2004 issue
63 (12) 2322-2326

Abstract

Objective: To examine the relation of social resources and cognitive decline in older adults.
Methods: Data are from the Chicago Health and Aging Project, an epidemiologic study of risk factors for Alzheimer disease (AD) and other common conditions in a geographically defined population of older persons. The sample consisted of 6,102 non-Hispanic African Americans (61.2%) and whites, aged ≥ 65, who underwent up to three interviews during an average of 5.3 years of follow-up. Each interview included administration of four cognitive function tests from which a composite measure of cognition was formed. Social networks were based on the number of children, relatives, and friends seen at least once a month. Social engagement was measured with four items related to social and productive activity.
Results: Higher number of social networks and level of social engagement were positively correlated with initial level of cognitive function (networks estimate = 0.003, engagement estimate = 0.060, both p < 0.001). Both resources were also associated with a reduced rate of cognitive decline. A high (90th percentile) number of networks reduced the rate of decline by 39% compared to a low level (10th percentile), and high social engagement reduced decline by 91%. These relations remained after controlling for socioeconomic status, cognitive activity, physical activity, depressive symptoms, and chronic medical conditions.
Conclusions: Greater social resources, as defined by social networks and social engagement, are associated with reduced cognitive decline in old age.

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Information & Authors

Information

Published In

Neurology®
Volume 63Number 12December 28, 2004
Pages: 2322-2326
PubMed: 15623694

Publication History

Received: March 30, 2004
Accepted: August 18, 2004
Published online: December 28, 2004
Published in print: December 28, 2004

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Authors

Affiliations & Disclosures

L. L. Barnes, PhD
From Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center (Drs. Barnes and Wilson) and Rush Institute for Healthy Aging (Drs. Mendes de Leon, Bienias, and Evans) and Departments of Neurological Sciences (Drs. Barnes, Wilson, and Evans), Internal Medicine (Drs. Bienias and Evans), Preventive Medicine (Dr. Mendes de Leon), and Psychology (Drs. Barnes and Wilson), Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.
C. F. Mendes de Leon, PhD
From Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center (Drs. Barnes and Wilson) and Rush Institute for Healthy Aging (Drs. Mendes de Leon, Bienias, and Evans) and Departments of Neurological Sciences (Drs. Barnes, Wilson, and Evans), Internal Medicine (Drs. Bienias and Evans), Preventive Medicine (Dr. Mendes de Leon), and Psychology (Drs. Barnes and Wilson), Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.
R. S. Wilson, PhD
From Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center (Drs. Barnes and Wilson) and Rush Institute for Healthy Aging (Drs. Mendes de Leon, Bienias, and Evans) and Departments of Neurological Sciences (Drs. Barnes, Wilson, and Evans), Internal Medicine (Drs. Bienias and Evans), Preventive Medicine (Dr. Mendes de Leon), and Psychology (Drs. Barnes and Wilson), Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.
J. L. Bienias, ScD
From Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center (Drs. Barnes and Wilson) and Rush Institute for Healthy Aging (Drs. Mendes de Leon, Bienias, and Evans) and Departments of Neurological Sciences (Drs. Barnes, Wilson, and Evans), Internal Medicine (Drs. Bienias and Evans), Preventive Medicine (Dr. Mendes de Leon), and Psychology (Drs. Barnes and Wilson), Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.
D. A. Evans, MD
From Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center (Drs. Barnes and Wilson) and Rush Institute for Healthy Aging (Drs. Mendes de Leon, Bienias, and Evans) and Departments of Neurological Sciences (Drs. Barnes, Wilson, and Evans), Internal Medicine (Drs. Bienias and Evans), Preventive Medicine (Dr. Mendes de Leon), and Psychology (Drs. Barnes and Wilson), Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.

Notes

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Lisa L. Barnes, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, Armour Academic Facility, 600 S. Paulina, Suite 1038, Chicago, IL 60612; e-mail: [email protected]

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