OBJECTIVE: The authors explored the association between complexity of primary lifetime occupation and cognition in older adulthood. METHOD: The study included 386 participants from the Swedish Panel Study of Living Conditions of the Oldest Old, a nationally representative sample aged 77 years or older. The authors examined complexity of work with data, people, and things in relation to cognitive functioning, measured with a shortened version of Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and cognitive impairment based on MMSE score cutoff. RESULTS: Complexity of work with data and people were associated with better MMSE scores, controlling for age, sex, childhood socioeconomic status, and education. The association between complexity of work with data and MMSE remained statistically significant when adult occupational status was substituted for education as a covariate. DISCUSSION: Complexity of primary lifetime occupation may be reflected in cognitive functioning even in advanced old age. This effect may be independent of education or occupational status.
OBJECTIVE: Continuity in habits, activities, and roles is important upon entering old age according to the continuity theory of aging. Few studies have investigated patterns of leisure participation over an extended period of time among older adults. This study examines changes in nine different leisure activities in a nationally representative sample of individuals followed over a 34-year period in Sweden. METHODS: We used longitudinal data from three waves of an interview survey that followed 495 individuals from 1968 to 2002. Individuals were aged 43-65 in 1968 and 77-99 in 2002. We conducted logistic regression analyses on each of the leisure activities. RESULT: For the panel followed, a decline in participation rates was the most common pattern over time. Analyses at the individual level showed that late-life participation was generally preceded by participation earlier in life. Previous participation, both 10 and 34 years earlier, predicted late-life participation. The modifying effect of functional status in late life was small. DISCUSSION: In accordance with the continuity theory of aging, leisure participation in old age is often a continuation of previous participation. However, there is considerable variation among both activities and individuals.
OBJECTIVES: This study examines the association between participation in leisure activities and mortality risk among older men and women. METHODS: A representative sample of 1,246 men and women ages 65 to 95, interviewed in 1991-1992, were followed for 12 years. Cox regressions analyzed mortality risk. RESULTS: Participating in only a few activities doubled mortality risk compared to those with the highest participation levels, even after controlling for age, education, walking ability, and other health indicators. Women had a dose-response relationship between overall participation and survival. Strong associations with survival were found for engagement in organizational activities and study circles among women and hobby activities and gardening among men. DISCUSSION: Results suggest gender differences in the association between leisure activities and mortality. Women display a decreasing mortality risk for each additional activity. Social activities have the strongest effects on survival among women, whereas men seem to benefit from solitary activities.
OBJECTIVES: Previous research has suggested that mental stimulation in different life periods may protect against dementia or delay disease onset. This study aimed to explore the association between work complexity factors at midlife and dementia risk in late life under the hypothesis that high work complexity may modulate the increased dementia risk due to low education. DESIGN: Population-based follow-up study. SETTING: Urban. PARTICIPANTS: A cohort of 931 nondemented subjects, aged 75+ years from the Kungsholmen Project, Stockholm, examined twice over 6 years. MEASUREMENTS: Incident dementia cases were identified using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd-Edition Revised criteria. Primary occupations were assigned into categories according to the Nordic Occupational Classification and matched to the 1970 U.S. Census to score the level of work complexity with data, people, and things by using a preformed matrix. RESULTS: Lower dementia risk was associated with complexity of work with both data (age and gender adjusted relative risk [aRR]: 0.85, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.75-0.95) and with people (aRR: 0.88, 95% CI: 0.80-0.97). Adjusting for education led to similar results, although no longer statistically significant. Further, the highest degrees of complexity of work with data that involves analyzing, coordinating, and synthesizing data were associated with lower dementia risk even among lower educated subjects (relative risk: 0.52, 95% CI: 0.29-0.95). No gender differences were detected. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that work complexity with data and people is related to lower risk of dementia and that the highest levels of work complexity may modulate the higher dementia risk due to low education.