Importance of Activity Engagement and Neighborhood to Cognitive Function Among Older Chinese Americans

Fengyan Tang, Wei Zhang, Iris Chi, Mengting Li, Xin Qi Dong

Publication Date: 04/08/2020

This study investigates the differential associations of activity engagement and perceived neighborhood characteristics (i.e., cohesion, disorder, sense of community) with cognitive measures. Using data of 2,713 Chinese older adults in Chicago, who completed two interviews between 2011 and 2015, we identified three activity domains: reading, social, and games. In general, engagement in more reading and social activities was associated with better baseline cognitive function, but the positive effects tapered off over time in some cases. Neighborhood cohesion had both direct and indirect effects on cognitive function. Engagement in social activities mediated the neighborhood cohesion effects, that is, living in a cohesive neighborhood promoted social activities and consequently benefited cognitive function. Findings speak to the importance of activity engagement and neighborhood cohesion for cognition among the U.S. Chinese older adults. Future research is needed to investigate the longitudinal relationships of activity engagement and environmental factors with cognitive change.