Does a Dementia Diagnosis Increase the Likelihood of Exercising?

Kanika Arora , University of Iowa
Divya Bhagianadh

The prevalence of chronic diseases like dementia is on the rise. Physical activity has been shown to slow the rate of cognitive decline as well as impart other non-cognitive benefits to dementia patients. This study examines whether older adults experiencing a recent dementia diagnosis were more likely to engage in physical activity than those without such a diagnosis. We used longitudinal data from seven waves of the National Health and Aging Trends Study for 7,767 older adults. While we did not find a statistically significant result for the average older adult, sub-group multivariate analyses demonstrated that older white women with a recent dementia diagnosis were two times (P<0.01) times more likely to engage in physical activity than older white women without such a diagnosis. Thus, for at least for certain groups, a dementia diagnosis can serve as a window of opportunity that prompts older adults to change health habits.

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 Presented in Session 6. Health & Mortality & Aging