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1.  Associations between Dementia Outcomes and Depressive Symptoms, Leisure Activities, and Social Support 
Social relations and depressive symptoms are intertwined. They both predict subsequent dementia, but only few studies on the association between social life aspects and subsequent dementia exist.
The risk of subsequent dementia was estimated over 2 follow-up assessments, each 18 months apart, depending on leisure activity, social support (general scale and the 3 factors emotional support, practical support, and social integration), and depressive symptoms, using proportional hazard models in a cohort of elderly patients (n = 2,300, with a mean age of 82.45 years) recruited for the study by their general practitioners.
Higher depressive symptoms and lower cognitive and physical activity were associated with an increased risk of subsequent all-cause dementia and Alzheimer's dementia (AD). While neither social engagement nor the general social support scale was associated with subsequent dementia, a higher level of social integration was associated with a lower dementia risk. In combined models, the results for activity variables remained similar, but the strength of the association between depressive symptoms and the subsequent risk of dementia decreased, and the association with social integration disappeared.
Depressive symptoms increased and activity variables decreased the risk of subsequent dementia; however, activity variables, namely cognitive and physical activity, partly mediated the effect of depressive symptoms on the subsequent risk of all-cause dementia and AD. In many cases, social support was not associated with a risk of subsequent dementia.
PMCID: PMC4296229
Dementia; Alzheimer's dementia; Depressive symptoms; Cognitive activities; Physical activities; Social engagement; Social support; Emotional support; Practical support
2.  Predictors of Costs in Dementia in a Longitudinal Perspective 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70018.
To analyse predictors of costs in dementia from a societal perspective in a longitudinal setting.
Healthcare resource use and costs were assessed retrospectively using a questionnaire in four waves at 6-month intervals in a sample of dementia patients (N = 175). Sociodemographic data, dementia severity and comorbidity at baseline, cognitive impairment and impairment in basic and instrumental activities of daily living were also recorded. Linear mixed regression models with random intercepts for individuals were used to analyse predictors of total and sector-specific costs.
Impairment in activities of daily living significantly predicted total costs in dementia patients, with associations between basic activities of daily living and formal care costs on the one and instrumental activities of daily living and informal care costs on the other hand. Nursing home residence was associated with lower total costs than residence in the community. There was no effect of cognition on total or sector-specific costs.
Cognitive deficits in dementia are associated with costs only via their effect on the patients' capacity for activities of daily living. Transition into a nursing home may reduce total costs from a societal perspective, owing to the fact that a high amount of informal care required by severely demented patients prior to transition into a nursing home may cause higher costs than inpatient nursing care.
PMCID: PMC3715502  PMID: 23875017
3.  Influence of social support on cognitive change and mortality in old age: results from the prospective multicentre cohort study AgeCoDe 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:9.
Social support has been suggested to positively influence cognition and mortality in old age. However, this suggestion has been questioned due to inconsistent operationalisations of social support among studies and the small number of longitudinal studies available. This study aims to investigate the influence of perceived social support, understood as the emotional component of social support, on cognition and mortality in old age as part of a prospective longitudinal multicentre study in Germany.
A national subsample of 2,367 primary care patients was assessed twice over an observation period of 18 months regarding the influence of social support on cognitive function and mortality. Perceived social support was assessed using the 14-item version of the FSozU, which is a standardised and validated questionnaire of social support. Cognition was tested by the neuropsychological test battery of the Structured Interview for the Diagnosis of Dementia (SIDAM). The influence of perceived support on cognitive change was analysed by multivariate ANCOVA; mortality was analysed by multivariate logistic and cox regression.
Sample cognitive change (N = 1,869): Mean age was 82.4 years (SD 3.3) at the beginning of the observation period, 65.9% were female, mean cognition was 49 (SD 4.4) in the SIDAM. Over the observation period cognitive function declined in 47.2% by a mean of 3.4 points. Sample mortality (N = 2,367): Mean age was 82.5 years (SD 3.4), 65.7% were female and 185 patients died during the observation period. Perceived social support showed no longitudinal association with cognitive change (F = 2.235; p = 0.135) and mortality (p = 0.332; CI 0.829-1.743).
Perceived social support did not influence cognition and mortality over an 18 months observation period. However, previous studies using different operationalisations of social support and longer observation periods indicate that such an influence may exist. This influence is rather small and the result of complex interaction mechanisms between different components of social support; the emotional component seems to have no or only a limited effect. Further research is needed to describe the complex interactions between components of social support. Longer observation periods are necessary and standardised operationalisations of social support should be applied.
PMCID: PMC3364867  PMID: 22433223

Results 1-3 (3)