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Int J Epidemiol. 2005 Aug;34(4):864-71. Epub 2005 Mar 11.

Participating in social activities helps preserve cognitive function: an analysis of a longitudinal, population-based study of the elderly.

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  • 1Center for Population and Health, 312 Healy Hall, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057-1197, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

This study examines how changes in cognition over time are related to participation in social activities and the extent of social networks.

METHODS:

Data are drawn from a population-based, longitudinal study that began in 1989 among elderly Taiwanese. An over-dispersed Poisson model is used to regress the number of failed cognitive tasks (0-5) in 1996, 1999, and 2000 on prior measures of cognitive impairment, social activities, social networks, health status, and sociodemographic characteristics. The analysis sample comprises 2387 individuals, who contribute a total of 4603 observations across three survey intervals (1993-96, 1996-99, 1999-2000).

RESULTS:

After adjusting for prior cognitive impairment, baseline health status, and sociodemographic factors, respondents who participated in one or two social activities failed 13% fewer cognitive tasks (P < 0.01) than those with no social activities; those who engaged in three or more activities failed 33% fewer cognitive tasks (P < 0.001). In contrast, none of the social network measures was related to cognitive impairment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite a social structure where elderly persons often live with their children and social interaction is likely to be more family-centered than in western countries, data from Taiwan suggest that participation in social activities outside the family may have a bigger impact on cognitive function than social contacts with family or non-relatives.

Comment in

PMID:
15764689
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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