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Social isolation and memory decline in later life

Read, Sanna, Comas-Herrera, Adelina ORCID: 0000-0002-9860-9062 and Grundy, Emily (2020) Social isolation and memory decline in later life. Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 75 (2). 367 - 376. ISSN 1079-5014

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Identification Number: 10.1093/geronb/gbz152


OBJECTIVES: To investigate associations between level and changes in social isolation and in memory in older men and women. METHODS: The sample included 6,123 women and 5,110 men aged 50+ from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA). Extended latent change score models from six measurement occasions every 2 years from 2002 were used to investigate associations between social isolation and memory. Models were adjusted for age, socioeconomic position, and health. RESULTS: Social isolation increased and memory decreased over time. Among men an initially high level of social isolation was associated with a somewhat greater decrease in memory. Among women a greater increase in social isolation predicted a greater decrease in memory and a larger change in social isolation was associated with further larger changes in isolation, although when social isolation reached a higher level it subsequently decreased. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that the association between social isolation and memory decline arises because social isolation is associated with increased memory decline rather than poor memory leading to increases in social isolation. Men with high levels of social isolation and women with accumulated social isolation over time are especially affected as these patterns of isolation were associated with more profound memory decline.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors
Divisions: Personal Social Services Research Unit
Social Policy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2019 11:27
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:47

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