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.
Presented in Session 6. Health & Mortality & Aging