Restricted Life Space Tied to Increased Alzheimer's Risk

Those in smallest living space have twice the risk compared to those in largest living space

THURSDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults whose life space is restricted to the home environment have a substantially increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to a study published online March 22 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Bryan D. James, Ph.D., from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues examined the association between a constricted life space and the risk of developing AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and rapid cognitive decline in older adults. Participants included 1,294 community-dwelling elders without baseline clinical dementia who were followed up for an average of 4.4 years. Data on life space were established using the Life Space Questionnaire, and incident AD and MCI were diagnosed through annual clinical assessment.

The investigators identified 180 individuals who developed AD. A more constricted life space was associated with an increased risk of AD (hazard ratio [HR], 1.21), MCI (HR, 1.17), and a faster rate of global cognitive decline (estimate, −0.012) after controlling for age, sex, race, and education. An individual with a life space restricted to their immediate home environment had almost twice the likelihood of developing AD compared to an individual with the largest life space. There was no demographic variation in association between life space constriction and the development of AD, and the correlation remained after adjusting for other confounding variables.

"These findings suggest that restrictions in movement through the environment may be an indicator of a greater risk for developing AD in older adults, even in persons with no cognitive impairments," the authors write.

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