Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

JoAnn T. Tschanz


JoAnn T. Tschanz


M. Scott Deberard


Heidi Wengreen


The Cache County Memory Study at Utah State University studied longitudinal changes in memory and aging in a population-based sample of 5,092 older adults in semirural Cache County, UT. Three hundred twenty-eight participants with dementia were identified through a multi-staged screening and assessment protocol and visited semiannually for up to 8 years in the Dementia Progression Study (DPS). The current project reviews data from the first 6 years due to attrition in later years. Researchers collected information regarding the participants’ demographics, health, lifestyle (nutrition and physical activity), cognitive abilities and neuropsychiatric symptoms as well as their caregivers’ demographics, health, and well-being. Both studies, funded by the National Institute on Aging, have allowed researchers to investigate many lifestyle and genetic factors that are associated with an increased risk and/or progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Nutrition is an important lifestyle factor in maintaining cognitive health throughout aging. The current investigation focused primarily on the link between nutritional factors and cognitive decline among persons with dementia. Individuals with dementia are at an increased risk for malnutrition, and those who are malnourished experience worse cognitive, functional, and neuropsychiatric symptoms. If factors such as nutritional status slow the progression of dementia, this may reduce an individual’s level of dependence on others and increase the quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers. Therefore, the current investigation examined the relationship between aspects of nutritional status and specific cognitive domains of memory, visuospatial skills, verbal expression, and executive functions in participants of the DPS. A better understanding of the impact of nutritional factors on these cognitive areas that are affected by dementia will help provide a better understanding of the overall influence of nutrition on dementia progression and potentially lead to more successful nutrition-related dementia interventions.



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Psychology Commons