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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 856048, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/856048
Research Article

Social Networks and Memory over 15 Years of Followup in a Cohort of Older Australians: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing

1Discipline of Public Health, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
2Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, The Australian National University, Building 63, Eggleston Road, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
3SA Community Health Research Unit, Flinders University, G.P.O. Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
4Flinders Centre for Ageing Studies, Flinders University, G.P.O. Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
5School of Psychology, Flinders University, G.P.O. Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia

Received 29 March 2012; Revised 21 June 2012; Accepted 17 July 2012

Academic Editor: Alan J. Gow

Copyright © 2012 Lynne C. Giles et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The purpose was to examine the relationship between different types of social networks and memory over 15 years of followup in a large cohort of older Australians who were cognitively intact at study baseline. Our specific aims were to investigate whether social networks were associated with memory, determine if different types of social networks had different relationships with memory, and examine if changes in memory over time differed according to types of social networks. We used five waves of data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing, and followed 706 participants with an average age of 78.6 years (SD 5.7) at baseline. The relationships between five types of social networks and changes in memory were assessed. The results suggested a gradient of effect; participants in the upper tertile of friends or overall social networks had better memory scores than those in the mid tertile, who in turn had better memory scores than participants in the lower tertile. There was evidence of a linear, but not quadratic, effect of time on memory, and an interaction between friends’ social networks and time was apparent. Findings are discussed with respect to mechanisms that might explain the observed relationships between social networks and memory.