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Gender Differences in the Impact of a Cognitive Decline on Older Adults’Social Participation ...

Gender Differences in the Impact of a Cognitive Decline on Older Adults’Social Participation in Korea

Jung-Hwa Ha (Seoul National University)

Eunkyung Chung (Seoul National University)

Eunseok Jeong (Seoul National University)

Using longitudinal data from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA), this study examined: (1)the effects of a cognitive decline on older adults’ social participation, including religious activities, leisure and sports activities, and social activities; and (2)the extent to which these effects differ by gender. Analyses are based on data from the 2006 (Time 1; T1) and 2010 (Time 2; T2) waves of KLoSA. The level of cognitive functioning was assessed with the Korean version of the Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE-K). A participant with an MMSE score of 24 or above was considered as having a normal cognitive functioning (Group 1), a score of 18-23 as having mild cognitive problems (Group 2), and a score of 17 or less as having serious cognitive problems (Group 3). We included in the analytic sample only those who showed normal cognitive functioning at T1, and examined how transitions from Group 1 at T1 to either Group 2 or 3 at T2 influenced older adults’ social participation at T2, controlling for social participation at T1. Results showed that both groups showed lower levels of social participation, compared to those who maintained normal cognitive functioning. Gender difference was significant only among those who experienced a mild decline in cognitive functioning (from Group 1 to Group 2). Women were more negatively affected by a cognitive decline than men. The findings underscore the need for social services that could help older adults maintain their social integration despite their cognitive problems.

Key words : older adults, cognitive decline, MMSE-K, Social participation

Korean Journal of Social Welfare Studies, vol. 46(1), 2015 spring. pp.5~30

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