Philippa J. Clarke

Cognitive Resilience and Community Context: Examining the role of Neighborhood Built and Social Environments for Slowing the Progression of Dementia among older Americans

Research Project Description

Recent research has considered the role of the social and built environment in cognitive impairment and decline at older ages. Findings suggest that residence in socioeconomically advantaged neighborhoods may promote cognitive function and/or buffer cognitive decline in part through their greater density of physical, social, and institutional resources that promote physical activity and facilitate mental stimulation. However, these relationships have not been empirically tested with national population-based data.

This study will examine the moderating role of neighborhood built and social environments on trajectories of cognitive function in a national sample of Americans followed since 2003. We will identify how features of the social and built environment are related to rates of decline in cognitive function among participants in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study - a national longitudinal cohort study of more than 30,000 black and white adults age 45-plus. In addition to collecting data on stroke and cognitive function at 6-month intervals, the study also tracks residential locations through geographic coordinates that will be linked to secondary sources to characterize the social and built environments, allowing analyses over time. We will look at socioenvironmental features such as land use, walkability, crime, community centers, and recreational centers and examine cross-sectional variation in older adult cognitive function according to the density of social and physical resources within residential neighborhoods.

Funding: National Institute on Aging (1 RF 1AG 057540 01)

Funding Period: 9/15/2017 to 6/30/2021

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