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The Relationships Between Social Factors and Cognitive Ability in

an Elderly Population
Christa McDiffett, Evan Jonson, Lauren M. Van Till, Genna M., Mashinchi, Tylor Ghaffari, Tim Trammel, Emma E.
Mendes, Erica Lopez, Michelle L. Velazquez, Kelly A. Cotter, Dawn Strongin, and Gary Williams
Healthy Aging Lab – California State University, Stanislaus
Background Method Discussion
Participants Design and Measures
Background Overview
• 38 participants (M = 12 and F = 26) • WAIS-IV FSIQ Scores
•People are living longer than ever. The average •Both of our hypotheses were rejected
• Education levels: 91.7% of participants earned • Cohen’s Social Network Index
life expectancy at birth increased from 66.5 years • There was no significant correlation
in 2000 to 72.0 years in 2016 (World Health a high school education. Of these participants, • Medical Outcome Study: Social Support between social network diversity and
Organization, 2018). This longevity has led to an 66.7% earned their Bachelor’s degrees, and of Survey Instrument cognitive functioning.
these participants, 38.9% earned their
increased prevalence of cognitive decline,
Procedure • There was a significant negative correlation
doubling from 20.2 million people in 1990 to 43.8 Master’s degree
between emotional support and cognitive
million people in 2016 (GBD 2016 Dementia • Members of a faith-based, continuing care • Demographics and WAIS-IV data collected functioning.
Collaborators, 2019). retirement community across two sessions, separated by • This could be due to those with lower
•Previous literature has found that emotional approximately one week. cognitive functioning eliciting more social
support was a significant predictor of increased support.
cognitive functioning in healthy aging adults • Both emotional strain and companionship
(Seeman, Lusignolo, Albert, & Berkman, 2001). Results strain were also negatively correlated with
•Other research has suggested that old age is cognitive functioning.
typically associated with decline in cognitive Predictor Variable FSIQ (M = 114.97) Limitations
functioning and increased social strain due to
Social Network Diversity (M = 6.42) Pearson’s r -.124
•A small, homogenous sample was used.
reduced social network size (Chen and Feeley, • This impacts the generalizability of the
2013). p-value .457 results.
•Additionally, social network size and complexity Emotional Support (M = 3.64) Pearson’s r -.411 •Questions about social factors could have been
has been positively correlated with cognitive p-value .012 misinterpreted.
health (Ellward, Van Tilburg, & Aartsen, 2015; Emotional Strain (M = 1.44) Pearson’s r -.338 • Some required retrospection, potentially
Holtzman et al., 2004). leading to inaccurate answers.
p-value .041 • If questions are misinterpreted, the data may
Companionship Strain (M = 1.37) Pearson’s r -.367 not be valid.
Present Study
•The present study aimed to examine the p-value .025 Future Research
relationship between perceived support, social •Additional research could examine various
network diversity, and cognitive performance. strain factors and their unique relationships with
•We hypothesized that social network diversity and cognitive functioning to determine how specific
social support would be positively correlated with types of strain impact cognitive functioning.
cognitive functioning. •A longitudinal study could be used to explore
the progression of social support and cognitive
•We also examined the relationship between social
strain factors and cognitive functioning. functioning as older adults age.
Key Takeaways
References •It is important to look at the relationship
between support and cognitive functioning.
Chen, Y., & Feeley, T. H. (2013). Social support, social strain, loneliness, and well-being among older adults: An
analysis of the Health and Retirement Study. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 31(2), 141- However, this relationship may not be as
161. doi:10.1177/026540751388728
Ellwardt., L., Van Tilburg, T. G., & Aartsen, M. J. (2014). The mix matters: Complex personal networks relate to straightforward as originally hypothesized.
higher cognitive functioning in old age. Social Science & Medicine, 125,107-115.
GBD 2016 Dementia Collaborators (2019). Global, regional, and national burden of Alzheimer’s disease and other
•Furthermore, examining the relationship
dementias, 1990-2016: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The
Lancet. Neurology, 18(1), 88-106. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(18)304034
between cognitive functioning and social strain
Global Health Estimates 2016: Life expectancy, 2000–2016. Geneva, World Health
Organization; 2018 ( Acknowledgements factors may help understand factors that
Holtzman, R. E., Rebok, G. W., Saczynski, J. S., Kouzis, A. C., Doyle, K. W., & Eaton W. W. (2004).Social
network characteristics and cognition in middle-aged and older adults. The Journals of Gerontology: contribute to cognitive resiliency.
Series B, 59(6), P278-P284. doi:10.1093/geronb/59.6.P278
Seeman, T. E., Lusignolo, T. M., Albert, M., & Berkman, L. (2001). Social relationships, social support, and
We would like to thank Arika Harrison, Danielle Simpson, and Mercedes Corral for their contributions to
patterns of cognitive aging in healthy, high-functioning older adults: MacArthur Studies of Successful
Aging. Health Psychology, 20(4), 243-255. doi:10/1037/0278-6133.20.4.243
the Healthy Aging Lab.
Weschler, D. (2008). WAIS-IV Technical and Interpretive Manual. Pearson/ PsychCorp.