The study was conducted in a diverse cohort of Latinos in the USA. In total, data from more than 6,000 participants who were part of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos was analyzed. The researchers found the most serious results in people 70 years and older. Gender and ethnic background were not significant differentiators.
Cognitive performance may indicate whether people will need help with everyday activities later in life, according to a new study involving researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. The results were published in the English-language journal “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease”.
Subtle differences in cognition can help identify individuals who are at increased risk later in life of not being able to cope with their daily lives without help from others.
Link between cognition and independence
In the study, a poorer score on a cognitive performance test was associated with a higher risk of impairment in everyday life almost a decade later, the researchers report.
Test result points to independence years later
Identifying risk factors for impending impairments in everyday life is a crucial first step towards protecting independence in old age, reducing the burden on caregivers and lowering the public health costs associated with dementia, the research group explains.
The participants underwent various cognitive tests. About seven years later, the researchers used a questionnaire to assess the degree of dependence on activities of daily living.
In particular, the team examined cognitively responsive activities that were considered important for daily life, such as financial management. Such types of intellectually demanding activities tend to be made more difficult in dementia earlier than basic activities such as personal care, the researchers explain.
The majority of participants showed no impairment in activities of daily life. Nevertheless, it was evident that people with poorer cognitive performance on the test had a higher risk of later limitations in everyday activities. This shows how important cognitive health in middle age can be for later life, the researchers emphasize.
In the future, the researchers plan to investigate several biological, genetic and psychosocial factors through which cognition and activities of daily life could be linked. The aim is to enable people to maintain their independence in old age for a longer period of time, in the interests of the persons concerned, their families and public health. (as)
The achievements in learning and memory tasks could also predict the severity of future impairments in activities of daily life, the research team further reports. Impaired learning and memory functions are common in dementia, particularly in Alzheimer’s disease. It is possible that the study has revealed the earliest stages of these diseases, the team reports.
WashingtonNewsday Health and Wellness.