The role of cognitive reserve accumulated in midlife for the relation between chronic diseases and cognitive decline in old age: A longitudinal follow-up across six years

Andreas Ihle*, Paolo Ghisletta, Nicola Ballhausen, Delphine Fagot, Fanny Vallet, Marie Baeriswyl, Julia Sauter, Michel Oris, Juergen Maurer, Matthias Kliegel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The present study set out to investigate relations of the number of chronic diseases (as a global indicator of individuals' multimorbidity) to cognitive status and cognitive decline over six years as measured by changes in Trail Making Test (TMT) completion time in old adults and whether those relations differed by key life course markers of cognitive reserve (education, occupation, and cognitively stimulating leisure activities).

Method: We analyzed data from 897 participants tested on TMT parts A and B in two waves six years apart. Mean age in the first wave was 74.33 years. Participants reported information on chronic diseases, education, occupation, and cognitively stimulating leisure activities.

Results: Latent change score modeling testing for moderation effects revealed that a larger number of chronic diseases significantly predicted stronger increase in TMT completion time (i.e., steeper cognitive performance decline). Notably, the detrimental relation of the number of chronic diseases to stronger increase in TMT completion time (i.e., cognitive performance decline) was significantly stronger in individuals with less engagement in cognitively stimulating leisure activities in midlife.

Discussion: Present data suggest that disease-related cognitive decline may be steeper in individuals who have accumulated less cognitive reserve in midlife. However, greater midlife activity engagement seemed to be associated with steeper cognitive decline in any case. Implications for current cognitive reserve and neuropsychological aging research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume121
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cognitive decline
  • Multimorbidity
  • Activities
  • Life course
  • Longitudinal study
  • VASCULAR RISK-FACTORS
  • DELAYED CUED-RECALL
  • LEISURE ACTIVITIES
  • CARDIOVASCULAR-DISEASE
  • ALZHEIMERS-DISEASE
  • WORKING-MEMORY
  • LIFE-COURSE
  • PERFORMANCE
  • EDUCATION
  • SPEED

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