Background/aims: We aimed to estimate the prevalence of cognitive impairment, and the sociodemographic and comorbid predictors of cognitive function among older, rural South African adults.
Methods: Data were from a population-based study of 5,059 adults aged ≥40 years in rural South Africa in 2015. Cognitive impairment was defined as scoring ≤1.5 SDs below the mean composite time orientation and memory score, or requiring a proxy interview with "fair" or "poor" proxy-reported memory. Multiple linear regression estimated the sociodemographic and comorbid predictors of cognitive score, with multiplicative statistical interactions between each of age and sex with education.
Results: Cognitive impairment increased with age, from 2% of those aged 40-44 (11/516) to 24% of those aged ≥75 years (214/899). The independent predictors of lower cognitive score were being older, female, unmarried, not working, having low education, low household wealth, and a history of cardiovascular conditions. Education modified the negative associations between female sex, older age, and cognitive function score.
Conclusions: The prevalence of cognitive impairment increased with age and is comparable to rates of dementia reported in other sub-Saharan African countries. Age and sex differences in cognitive function scores were minimized as education increased, potentially reflecting the power of even poor-quality education to improve cognitive reserve.
Keywords: Epidemiology; Africa; Age factors; Cognitive function; Cognitive impairment; Cross-sectional studies; Education; Prevalence; Sex; Sociodemographic characteristics.
© 2018 S. Karger AG, Basel.