Smoking and Alcohol Consumption Following a New Dementia Diagnosis.

TitleSmoking and Alcohol Consumption Following a New Dementia Diagnosis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsArora, K, Bhagianadh, D
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
ISSN Number1758-5368
Keywordsalcohol, Dementia, dementia diagnosis, Smoking

OBJECTIVES: Despite extensive research on lifestyle factors that influence the risk of developing dementia, limited evidence exists on whether older adults adopt healthier habits post-diagnosis in the hope of preserving their quality of life.

METHOD: Using panel data (1998-2014) from the Health and Retirement Study, this study investigated whether individuals who received a new dementia diagnosis were more likely to modify smoking and drinking behaviors than those without such a diagnosis. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for observable differences between groups.

RESULTS: Older adults with a new dementia diagnosis were 2.8 times more likely to reduce alcohol consumption than those without such a diagnosis. This result was mainly attributable to "light" drinkers at baseline and appeared to fade over time. We found no statistically significant effect of a dementia diagnosis on smoking cessation or on reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked. These results were robust to multiple sensitivity tests, including the use of cognition scores to indicate dementia onset instead of self-reported physician diagnosis.

DISCUSSION: A new dementia diagnosis can serve as a window of opportunity that prompts some older adults to change habits related to alcohol consumption. This has important implications for clinical practice surrounding dementia diagnosis disclosure, the rates of which are currently much lower than other medical conditions.

Citation Key10378
PubMed ID31587074