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Can volunteering in later life reduce the risk of dementia? A 5-year longitudinal study among volunteering and non-volunteering retired seniors.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute.
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2017 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 12, no 3, e0173885Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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
Keyword [en]
ageing, gerontology, voluntarily work, dementia, cognitive disorders
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-141470DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173885PubMedID: 28301554OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-141470DiVA: diva2:1086987
Available from: 2017-04-05 Created: 2017-04-05 Last updated: 2017-04-05

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Citation style
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