Neighborhood status influences older women's cognitive function, study finds

August 2, 2011, RAND Corporation

Older women who live in a lower socioeconomic status neighborhood are more likely to exhibit lower cognitive functioning than women who live in more affluent neighborhoods, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The study, published online by the , is the largest of its type to examine whether living in a poor neighborhood is associated with lower cognitive function.

The study found that potential confounders such as vascular health, and such as depressive symptoms explained only a portion of the relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic status and cognitive function.

"This study provides the best evidence yet that living in a neighborhood with lower socioeconomic standing can have an impact on women's in late life," said Regina A. Shih, the study's lead author and a behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "More work is needed to find out whether living in a lower socioeconomic status neighborhood influences that may affect a woman's risk of developing dementia, and to consider ways to intervene."

Researchers analyzed information collected from 6,137 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.

Women from 39 locations who were at least 65 years old and free of dementia were enrolled in the memory study from May 1996 to December 1999. 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.

Unlike previous reports, the latest study did not find that older individuals are more vulnerable to the effects of neighborhood socioeconomic status because of a longer exposure to poor or declining neighborhoods.

The study also found that non-whites may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of living in a neighborhood with a lower socioeconomic status. But researchers did not find that an individual's income level or education strengthened or weakened the relationship between neighborhood and their .

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.