Where Women Live Proves Good Predictor Of Future Cognitive Decline

A decline in cognitive skills can be an early predictor of dementia and a greater risk of other mental decline which can be a reason people ultimately need long-term care explains Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance

“Cognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s are a leading cause of costly long-term care each year for millions of Americans,” Slome explains, “and few Americans are taking planning steps in terms of health or finances to prepare.”

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that damages and destroys brain cells.  The prevalence of dementia increases with advancing age and affects about 30 percent of people over 80 years of age, costing more than $40,000 per patient annually in the United States, according to AALTCI.

The new RAND study is the largest of its type to examine whether living in a poor neighborhood is associated with lower cognitive function.

Researchers noted that their findings provide the best evidence yet that living in a neighborhood with lower socioeconomic standing can have an impact on women’s cognitive abilities in late life.  Researchers analyzed information collected from over 6,000 women from across the United States who were surveyed as a part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, an ancillary study to the Women’s Health Initiative hormone therapy trials.

The women from nearly 40 locations nationwide who were 65 years old or older and free of dementia were enrolled in the memory study over a three year time period. All the women in the study were given a standard test that measures cognitive function by assessing items such as memory, reasoning and spatial functions.

Researchers found that women who lived in neighborhoods with lower socioeconomic status were substantially more likely to have low cognitive scores than similar women who lived in more affluent neighborhoods.

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