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Neurology. 2004 Dec 28;63(12):2322-6.

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

Author information

1
Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, Armour Academic Facility, 600 S. Paulina, Suite 1038, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. lbarnes1@rush.edu

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 > or = 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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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