#302- Living Space and Cognition

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Based on research done by James, Bryan. D., Boyle, Patricia. A., Buchman, Aron. S., Barnes, Lisa. L., & Bennett, David. A. (2012), written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Has your life space narrowed? Are you less involved outside the home? Research indicates reduced living spaces may have adverse health outcomes including chronic illness, depression, and cognitive decline.

Neuroscientists examined the relationship between life space (i.e., the average distance of movement from bedroom to the outside world) and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They collected data from 1,300 seniors, without initial dementia, in Chicago retirement and senior housing facilities. Participants completed neurological and cognitive tests with measures of living quarters and usage of space. After an 8-year follow-up, a more constricted life space was associated with greater risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment. Participants who did not venture out of their living space regularly were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Restriction of movement and lack of environmental experiences appear to be highly predictive of those who develop Alzheimer’s and cognitive difficulties.

This may only indicate individuals with developing cognitive difficulties reduce their activities and social interactions. Or, health and psychological concerns may keep seniors closer to home.

Help seniors in your life remain healthy by keeping active, staying involved in the world around them as well as venturing outside of their homes.

References:

James, B. D., Boyle, P. A., Buchman, A. S., Barnes, L. L., & Bennett, D. A. (2012). Life Space and Risk of Alzheimer Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Cognitive Decline in Old Age. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry19(11), 961-969. 

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