Cognitive function is a critical health issue in later life, the decline of which disrupts well-being and daily life function. Cognitive decline in older ages can also be understood in the context of the social environment such as social connectedness and engagement in personal life. This study aimed to examine: (1) whether participation in social activities contributes to preventing cognitive decline, and (2) what type of social activities are beneficial to maintaining cognitive function. Data from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLOSA) 2006⁻2014, a longitudinal survey of the household-dwelling population aged 45 and older in Korea were used. The results revealed that Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores decreased with increasing age, at a rate of approximately 0.18 units across all age-gender groups, and the decrease was steeper for adults aged 65 and over. Participation in social gatherings was likely to delay the decline in cognitive function after the age of 65. In a gender-stratified model, social activity may not have an impact on the decline of cognitive function for men, whereas participation in social gatherings was negatively related to the decline of MMSE scores in women. This study suggests the need for a gender-stratified policy for preventing the decline of cognitive function while promoting engagement in social activities in Korean older adults.
Keywords: Korea; cognitive function; older adults; social activity.