Study from UC Davis and University of Victoria examines demographics and cognitive aging.
Early life experiences, such as childhood socioeconomic status and literacy, may have greater influence on the risk of cognitive impairment late in life than such demographic characteristics as race and ethnicity, a large study by researchers with the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the University of Victoria, Canada, has found.
“Declining cognitive function in older adults is a major personal and public health concern,” said Bruce Reed, professor of neurology and associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
“But not all people lose cognitive function, and understanding the remarkable variability in cognitive trajectories as people age is of critical importance for prevention, treatment and planning to promote successful cognitive aging and minimize problems associated with cognitive decline.”
The study, “Life Experiences and Demographic Influences on Cognitive Function in Older Adults,” is published online in Neuropsychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association. It is one of the first comprehensive examinations of the multiple influences of varied demographic factors early in life and their relationship to cognitive aging.
The research was conducted in a group of over 300 diverse men and women who spoke either English or Spanish. They were recruited from senior citizen social, recreational and residential centers, as well as churches and health-care settings. At the time of recruitment, all study participants were 60 or older, and had no major psychiatric illnesses or life threatening medical illnesses. Participants were Caucasian, African-American or Hispanic.