Date of Award:

5-2011

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Maria C. Norton

Abstract

Lifestyle behaviors have been associated with better cognitive status and reduced risk of dementia. However, only individual or combinations of a few lifestyle behaviors have been studied. The present study examines the association between lifestyle behaviors and cognitive status in older adults including six lifestyle behaviors: cognitive activities, social activities, physical activities, religious involvement, diet, and alcohol consumption.

The study population is a sample of 1,216 community-dwelling men and women age 65 years and older from Cache County, Utah. The present study is conducted using the extant data from the Cache County Study on Memory Health and Aging (CCSMHA), a prospective longitudinal study, which has been ongoing since 1995 with its focus on Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Data related to lifestyle behaviors, cognitive status, and dementia diagnosis in the third study wave were analyzed for the purpose of the present study.

Three lifestyle patterns were identified based on the six lifestyle behaviors: the least engaged, the moderately engaged secular, and the most engaged religious. The most engaged religious pattern represented a healthy lifestyle on all lifestyle domains with exception to almost no use of alcohol. The moderately engaged secular pattern represented a moderately healthy lifestyle on all domains with least engagement in religious behavior. The least engaged pattern showed an unhealthy lifestyle on all domains with moderate engagement in religious behavior. The results showed that participants in the least engaged had a lower cognitive status and higher rate of being diagnosed with cognitive impairment or dementia compared to those with other two lifestyle patterns.

The findings suggest that engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors in later life might protect from or delay loss of cognitive ability and dementia risk.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on April 11, 2011.

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