Social Integration and Cognition among Older Adults

Cynthia J. Peters, University of Chicago
Alisa C. Lewin, University of Chicago

This study examines the effects of social integration on cognitive performance and on cognitive decline among non-disabled mid-life adults. The effects of four dimensions of social integration on cognition are explored: living with spouse and with other family members, level of contact with neighbors and non-resident family members, social engagement and participation in complex social environments. Data for the study are drawn from the Health and Retirement Study 1992-2000. The independent variables, measured at Time 1, are used to predict cognitive functioning 1992 - 2000. Cognition was measured as score in an immediate recall test. Although the effects were relatively moderate, preliminary results suggest that social engagement and participation in complex social environments (supervising others at work) have long-term effects that may delay cognition decline among older adults, even when controlling for health and demographic characteristics.

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Presented in Poster Session 3