Background: The effect of alcohol consumption on cognitive decline is not clear. We aimed to study the association between alcohol consumption and cognitive functioning controlling for functional heath status.
Methods: A total of 1610 older adults with a score ≥26 on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) were followed to assess the change in scores at the 3-year follow-up. Information on alcohol consumption as well as socio-demographic, lifestyle, psychosocial and clinical factors, as well as health service use were assessed at baseline and 3-year follow-up interviews. Linear mixed models with repeated measures were used stratifying by functional status.
Results: Close to 73% reported consuming alcohol in the past 6 months, of which 11% were heavy drinkers (≥11 and ≥16 drinks for women and men). A significant decrease in MMSE scores was observed in low functioning non-drinkers (-1.48; 95% CI: -2.06, -0.89) and light to moderate drinkers (-0.99; 95% CI: -1.54, -0.44) and high functioning non-drinkers (-0.51; 95% CI: -0.91, -0.10).
Conclusions: Alcohol consumption did not contribute to cognitive decline. Cognitive decline was greater in individuals reporting low functional status. Research should focus on the interaction between changing patterns of alcohol consumption and social participation in individuals with low and high functioning status.
Keywords: alcohol consumption; dementia; older people.
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