The Role of Social Connection/Engagement in Episodic Memory Change in Stroke.

TitleThe Role of Social Connection/Engagement in Episodic Memory Change in Stroke.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsElayoubi, J, Nelson, ME, Haley, WE, Hueluer, G
ISSN Number1758-5341
KeywordsCardiovascular accident, Cognition, Cognitive Reserve, Social participation, Word recall

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Positive associations between social connection/engagement and cognitive function are well documented. However, little is known about whether social connection/engagement can buffer the impact of serious brain injury such as stroke on cognitive functioning.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Participants were 898 individuals with incident stroke from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) between 1998-2012. Multilevel modeling was used to examine how social connection/engagement were associated with episodic memory pre- and post-stroke. Models controlled for age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, number of health conditions, and functional health.

RESULTS: Participants who were lonely pre-stroke recalled significantly fewer words at time of stroke, and participants who had children residing within 10 miles pre-stroke showed significantly less decline in word recall over time. Participants who provided help to others pre-stroke showed less stroke-related decline in word recall. Within-person increase in partnered status, having friends, and helping others were related to better word recall in the post-stroke period.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Higher pre-stroke levels of social connection/engagement predicted better episodic memory at stroke, smaller decline in episodic memory with stroke, and less decline in episodic memory over time. Increases in social connection/engagement from pre- to post-stroke also predicted better post-stroke episodic memory. Beyond the widely documented benefits of social connection/engagement to well-being, they may also increase cognitive stimulation and cognitive reserve and thus contribute to stroke recovery in the cognitive domain. Social connection/engagement is an important and modifiable risk factor in older adults.

Citation Key11765
PubMed ID34270722