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Is There a Link between Cognitive Reserve and Cognitive Function in the Oldest-Old?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Connor Richardson, Stephanie Harrison, Dr Katie Brittain, Emeritus Professor Thomas Kirkwood, Emerita Professor Carol Jagger, Professor Dame Louise Robinson, Professor Bloss Stephan


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Background The oldest-old (aged ≥85 years) are the fastest growing age group, with the highest risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. This study investigated whether cognitive reserve applies to the oldest-old. This has implications for cognitive interventions in this age group. Methods Baseline and 5-year follow-up data from the Newcastle 85+ Study were used (N = 845, mean age = 85.5, 38% male). A Cognitive Reserve Index (CRI) was created, including: education, social class, marital status, engagement in mental activities, social participation, and physical activity. Global (Mini-Mental State Examination) and domain specific (Cognitive Drug Research Battery subtests assessing memory, attention, and speed) cognitive functions were assessed. Dementia diagnosis was determined by health records. Logistic regression analysis examined the association between CRI scores and incident dementia. Mixed effects models investigated baseline and longitudinal associations between the CRI scores and cognitive function. Analyses controlled for sex, age, depression, and cardiovascular disease history. Results Higher reserve associated with better cognitive performance on all baseline measures, but not 5-year rate of change. The CRI associated with prevalent, but not incident dementia. Conclusions In the oldest-old, higher reserve associated with better baseline global and domain-specific cognitive function and reduced risk of prevalent dementia; but not cognitive decline or incident dementia. Increasing reserve could promote cognitive function in the oldest-old. The results suggest there would be little impact on trajectories, but replication is needed. Development of preventative strategies would benefit from identifying the role of each factor in building reserve and why rate of change is not affected.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lavrencic LM, Richardson C, Harrison SL, Muniz-Terrera G, Keage HAD, Brittain K, Kirkwood TBL, Jagger C, Robinson L, Stephan BCM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journals of Gerontology: Series A

Year: 2018

Volume: 73

Issue: 4

Pages: 499-505

Print publication date: 14/03/2018

Online publication date: 22/07/2017

Acceptance date: 17/07/2017

ISSN (print): 1079-5006

ISSN (electronic): 1758-535X

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glx140

PubMed id: 28977420


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