Can volunteering in later life reduce the risk of dementia? A 5-year longitudinal study among volunteering and non-volunteering retired seniors.
2017 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 12, no 3, e0173885Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We propose that voluntary work, characterized by social, physical and cognitive activity in later life is associated with fewer cognitive problems and lower dementia rates. We test these assumptions using 3-wave, self-reported, and registry data from the 2010, 2012, and 2014 Swedish National Prescribed Drug Register. We had three groups of seniors in our data: 1) no volunteering (N = 531), 2) discontinuous volunteering (N = 220), and 3) continuous volunteering (N = 250). We conducted a path analysis in Mplus to investigate the effect of voluntary work (discontinuously and continuously) on self-reported cognitive complaints and the likelihood of being prescribed an anti-dementia treatment after controlling for baseline and relevant background variables. Our results indicated that seniors, who continuously volunteered, reported a decrease in their cognitive complaints over time, whereas no such associations were found for the other groups. In addition, they were 2.44 (95%CI [1.86; 3.21]) and 2.46 (95%CI [1,89; 3.24]) times less likely to be prescribed an anti-dementia treatment in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Our results largely support the assumptions that voluntary work in later life is associated with lower self-reported cognitive complaints and a lower risk for dementia, relative to those who do not engage, or only engage episodically in voluntary work.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 12, no 3, e0173885
ageing, gerontology, voluntarily work, dementia, cognitive disorders
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-141470DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173885PubMedID: 28301554OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-141470DiVA: diva2:1086987