How Neighborhoods Protect or Harm Cognitive Health in Older People – The Source

Will your neighborhood help protect your cognitive health as you age?

A growing body of research, led by scientists at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Michigan, suggests that older adults’ access to civic and social groups, cultural and recreational centers such as museums and art galleries, may help prevent cognitive decline. suggests that it may be useful for as a person ages. A theory they called “perceivability”.

In a recent study, “Cognibility: an ecological theory of neighborhoods and cognitive aging,” published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, researchers found evidence that these neighborhood features can predict cognitive scores in older adults. did.

“The primary goal of this project was to examine potential relationships between the cognitive health of older adults and the neighborhoods in which they live,” said co-author of the study, WashU’s Society for the Arts and Sciences. Assistant Professor Michael Esposito said.


“And we found evidence of that link. People who live in areas with overlapping location-based privileges and minimal exposure to hazards are significantly more likely than their peers.” I have experienced good results in

Specifically, people who lived in areas with ready access to civic and social organizations had higher cognitive scores than those who lived in areas without direct access to such organizations. That difference corresponds to an age difference of about two years.

The researchers also showed that people living in areas with more highway exposure had lower cognitive scores than those living in areas with less highway exposure. increase. Other characteristics, such as areas with high concentrations of coffee shops and fast food restaurants, were associated with slightly lower levels of cognitive function.

“There is literature suggesting that neighborhoods may actually play a large role in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia risk, but they are largely overlooked. Cognitive function declines as people age.” But in the process of getting through it, people don’t often pay attention to what’s going on in their neighborhood,” says Jessica Finlay, Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at UM.

Identifying the specific neighborhood functions that best protect the cognitive health of older adults is critical to inform future public health initiatives, community interventions, and policies, researchers say.

“While these results here are rather preliminary and set the stage for additional research on this topic, we believe that neighborhood inequalities may be important for understanding health disparities in larger populations. It shows that it may be a structural mechanism,” said Esposito.

About research

Esposito and Finlay previously evaluated single neighborhood features to determine their impact on cognitive function. In the current study, researchers wanted to compare a collection of 15 features to see which ones might be most strongly associated with cognitive function in older adults.

This group included cognitive scores from more than 20,000 participants in the Reasons for Geographical and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, a national sample of older black and white Americans. I was.

Esposito, who led the statistical analysis portion of the study, created a conservative model that assumed that none of the 15 neighborhood features affect cognitive health. We then had the model run on each of the 15 features of neighborhood cognitive function using a statistical learning approach.

“The initial assumption of the model was that none of these features were important. increase. “In the final output, we can see if the association still exists after trying to remove it. If this test passes, the function is probably a significant predictor of cognitive health. prize.”

Researchers were unable to control factors such as wealth. They note that many of these features are likely to drive the ability of individuals to purchase in accessible areas. However, future work will test such metrics, Esposito said.

In the country we live in, it is important to demonstrate the fact that people’s access to health varies from region to region and that health depends on where they live.

Michael Esposito

“In the country we live in, it is important to show the fact that people’s access to health varies from region to region and that health depends on where they live,” he said.

The team also ran models to see if there were differences in cognitive function within regions by race, gender, and education (a proxy for socioeconomic status), but these early models showed no significant I didn’t find any difference.

Future research will focus more specifically on how race, ethnicity, gender, education and wealth alter neighborhoods and cognitive health, the researchers said.

“This is truly groundbreaking work. Recognitionability helps people think about their neighborhood environment in terms of their own cognitive health,” said co-author of the study and professor of epidemiology at the UM School of Public Health. said Philippa Clarke, research professor at ISR’s Research Center.

“While most research on cognition and dementia focuses on mitigating individual risk factors, cognition potential can go a long way toward mitigating age-related cognitive decline. It redirects attention to the characteristics of the surrounding environment that have

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