Laura Heath



Document Type


Degree Name



Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine


Oregon Health & Science University


Context: The risk of developing dementia increases with age. With the general public living longer, more strategies for promoting healthy aging and cognitive function will be critical. Many findings have shown that increased physical activity and the social environment play important roles in dementia prevention. However, the actual elements of a neighborhood environment--both physical activity and social environment--that promote healthy brain aging are uncertain. We hypothesized that individuals with greater neighborhood accessibility will have better cognitive function through more physical activity, walking, and social stimulation. Objective: To determine how neighborhood accessibility is associated with cognitive function and dementia among Portland area older adults using perceived and objective measures in 2004. Study Population: 133 older adults, 59 to 95 years old, selected from the three prospective cohorts within the Layton Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Center at OHSU, the Oregon Brain Aging Study (OBAS), the Dementia Prevention Study (DPS), and the African American Dementia and Aging Project (AADAPt). Methods: Neighborhood accessibility was determined subjectively through a questionnaire and objectively through the Regional Land Information System of the Portland government. These scores were compared using linear and logistic regression models to three cognitive tests (Animal Fluency, Logical Memory, and Clinical Dementia Rating) to determine the association between neighborhood accessibility and cognitive function while controlling for other risk factors. Conclusion: No significant associations between neighborhood accessibility and increased cognitive function were found. Overall, individuals with higher neighborhood accessibility scored no better or worse on cognitive tests than individuals with low neighborhood accessibility.




School of Medicine



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