Cognitive lifestyle in older persons: the population-based Sydney memory and ageing study

Michael J. Valenzuela*, Irene Leon, Chao Suo, Diana Martinez Piamba, Nicole Kochan, Henry Brodaty, Perminder Sachdev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cognitive lifestyle may be an important modifiable risk factor for dementia but has not yet been comprehensively studied in healthy elderly. Objective: To examine gender- and lifespan-related differences in cognitive lifestyle in a population-based cohort. Methods: 872 individuals from the second wave of the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (MAS) cohort were invited to complete the Lifetime of Experiences Questionnaire (LEQ), a validated measure of cognitive lifestyle. Of 555 questionnaires returned (64%), 253 were excluded due to prior diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, leaving n = 302 cognitively-intact elders (mean age 80.1 years, ±SD 4.7, 40.1% men). Results: Total LEQ was significantly higher in men (97.9 ± 20.0) than women (90.0 ± 24.5), resulting mainly from midlife LEQ differences. Men were more likely to have worked in managerial or professional jobs (73.8% versus 39.5% women), and twice as likely to have supervised large groups of workers. In late life, women were significantly more likely to be living alone (68.1% versus 25.4% men), but otherwise significantly more engaged in specific cognitive activities, including reading novels (72.3% versus 52.0% men) and incorporating volunteer work (31.9% versus 19.7% men) and socializing (59.0% versus 37.0% men) into their typical day. Over the adult lifespan, it was more common for men and women to transition between LEQ tertiles than remain the same. Conclusions: Cognitive lifestyle changes over the adult lifespan and exhibits a range of gender-based differences. While older women are more likely to be living alone they generally lead a more active current cognitive lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-97
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • dementia
  • epidemiology
  • lifestyle
  • prevention
  • protection


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