Posted on May 20, 2011, 6 a.m.
ARush University (US) team reports that more frequent social activity associates with subsequently reduced rates of cognitive decline, among seniors with dementia.
Among persons ages 65 years and older who have dementia, more frequent social activity appears to be associated with subsequently reduced rates of cognitive decline. Bryan D. James, from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center (Illinois, USA), and colleagues evaluated data from 1,138 older study subjects, mean age 79.6 years, without dementia at baseline, enrolled in the Rush Memory and Aging Project during an average follow-up period of 5.2 years, extending up to 12 years. The team employed a questionnaire to assess how often during the past year participants engaged in six common types of activities that involve social interaction, including visiting restaurants, church, or relatives' or friends' houses and participating in civic clubs and volunteer activities. Cognition was measured in five domains, namely: episodic memory, semantic memory, working memory, perceptual speed, and visuospatial ability. Social activity scores ranged from 1 to 4.2. The researchers found that a 1-point increase in social activity score was associated with a 47% decrease in the rate of decline in global cognitive function. The rate of global cognitive decline was reduced by an average of 70% in persons who were frequently socially active, as compared with persons who were infrequently socially active. This association was similar across the five domains of cognitive function measured. The researchers conclude that: “These results confirm that more socially active older adults experience less cognitive decline in old age.”
Bryan D. James, Robert S. Wilson, Lisa L. Barnes, David A. Bennett. “Late-Life Social Activity and Cognitive Decline in Old Age.” Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Issue 2011, pp 1-8, April 8, 2011.