Distinct functions of social support and cognitive function among older adults

Regina C. Sims, Megan Hosey, Shellie Anne Levy, Keith E. Whitfield, Leslie I. Katzel, Shari R. Waldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Study Context: Social support has been shown to buffer cognitive decline in older adults; however, few studies have examined the association of distinct functions of perceived social support and cognitive function. The current study examined the relations between distinct functions of social support and numerous cognitive domains in older adults. Methods: Data were derived from a cross-sectional, correlational study of cardiovascular risk factors, cognitive function, and neuroimaging. The participants were 175 older adults with a mean age of 66.32. A number of neuropsychological tests and the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List were administered. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to determine cross-sectional relations of social support to cognitive function after controlling for age, gender, education, depressive symptomatology, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, total cholesterol, and fasting glucose. Results: No significant positive relations were found between distinct functions of social support and cognitive function in any domain; however, inverse relations emerged such that greater social support across several functions was associated with poorer nonverbal memory and response inhibition. Conclusion: Results suggest that the receipt of social support may be a burden for some older adults. Within the current study, fluid cognitive abilities reflected this phenomenon. The mechanism through which social support is associated with poorer cognitive function in some domains deserves further exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-59
Number of pages20
JournalExperimental Aging Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinct functions of social support and cognitive function among older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this