Effects of Social Activities on Cognitive Functions

Evidence from CHARLS

Published in: Aging in Asia: Findings From New and Emerging Data Initiatives / Smith J.P., Majmundar M., editors (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2012), Chapter 12, p. 279-305

Posted on RAND.org on February 22, 2016

by Yuqing Hu, Xiaoyan Lei, James P. Smith, Yaohui Zhao

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Cognitive function is a key dimension of the quality of life for the elderly in all countries. It is closely related to the ability to process information in daily life and helps shape overall well-being over the life course (McArdle, Smith, and Willis, 2011). Cognitive function involves operations such as perception, memory, creation of imagery, and thinking, and it declines sharply as people approach advanced age (Levy, 1994; Tilvis et al., 2004). With population aging, more people will begin to suffer from cognitive impairment. The situation is especially severe in China because of its extraordinary speed of population aging, accompanied by the eventual decline of families as a source of eldercare and the lack of long-term care facilities. It is thus important to study determinants of cognitive function to understand how to best postpone and slow down its eventual decline. Social activities are of particular interest to us as they play a significant role in the daily lives of most Chinese elderly.

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