Role of social support in cognitive function among elders

J Clin Nurs. 2012 Aug;21(15-16):2118-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04178.x.


Aims and objectives: To examine cognitive function and its relationships to demographic characteristics and social support among elders in central China.

Background: Cognitive decline is prevalent among elders. Few studies have explored the relationship between social support and cognitive function among elders.

Design: A cross-sectional, descriptive correlational study.

Methods: A quasi-random, point of reference sample of 120 elders residing in central China was recruited for study. Instruments used included a: Socio-demographic Questionnaire, the Multidimensional Scale on Perceived Social Support and the Mini-Mental State Examination. Hierarchical multiple regression was performed to examine the relationships among demographic variables, social support and cognitive function.

Results: Age, education and social support accounted for 45·2% of the variance in cognitive function. Family support was the strongest predictor of cognitive function. Elders who had higher educational levels and more family support had better cognitive function. Relevance to clinical practice. Community healthcare providers should consolidate social support among elders in China and use family support interventions to reduce or delay cognitive decline, especially among those of increased age who are illiterate.

Conclusion: Elders who had higher educational level and more family support had better cognitive function levels. Interventions that include family support are needed to improve cognitive function among elders in China.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • China
  • Cognition Disorders*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires