Social factors for optimal memory

Being an older male who utilises the services provided by community aged care is more likely to result in healthy brain function for longer.


In an Australia first project, researchers at Macquarie University found that age was not the most likely predictor of declining cognitive function in older Australian adults.


Led by Dr Joyce Siette, Research Fellow with the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, the project identified a number of factors that may protect against declining cognitive function in older adults receiving community aged care services.


The factors that influence changes in an older adult brain’s ability to learn and understand include sociodemographic factors such as education, age, marital status, country of birth, as well as social factors such as friend and family networks and wellbeing factors such as quality of life.


Dr Siette said the findings suggest that being male, maintaining a socially active lifestyle and using multiple different services offered by community aged care providers is of great benefit.


Dr Siette commented that while evidence has shown that involving older adults in social activities is beneficial, this is the first study to look at what works best including other practical services such as help with transport and personal care.


“With further analysis we will be able to guide community aged care providers in designing services that offer the best outcomes for older Australians.”


Aged care community services are vital for many older Australians wanting to remain in their own home but must be designed well to be effective as well as value for money for the health system, Dr Siette commented.


Services currently provided by community aged care may include practical assistance such as transport and personal care, or one-on-one visits to a person’s home, or arranging outings. It may also include help accessing rehabilitation with nurses or physiotherapists.


The research was published in BMJ Open -


6 September 2019.