Social network and cognitive function in Appalachian older adults

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University of Alabama Libraries

The present study examined the association between social network and cognitive function in 268 Appalachian older adults without dementia who had a mean age of 78.5. Cognitive functioning was assessed in two ways using results data from an extensive neuropsychological battery: an overall composite score of all the tests and an overall composite score for tests in specified cognitive domains (working memory, visuospatial ability, semantic memory, and episodic memory). Social networks were measured from structured questions using the Lubben Social Network Scale-6 (LSNS-6). The associations of social network to cognitive function were assessed in two hierarchical linear regression models: Model B controlled for age, education and Geriatric Depression Scores (GDS), whereas Model A did not. Results suggest a significant main effect and positive association with social network and global cognitive function, episodic memory, working memory, semantic memory and visuospatial ability. Therefore, these findings confirm that larger social networks in older adults are associated with better cognitive functioning and this remains true across varied cognitive domains.

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