Hostname: page-component-7d8f8d645b-xmxxh Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-05-28T07:55:04.028Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Perceived loneliness among older adults with mild cognitive impairment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 April 2016

Junhong Yu
Laboratory of Neuropsychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Institute of Clinical Neuropsychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Charlene L. M. Lam
Laboratory of Neuropsychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Institute of Clinical Neuropsychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Tatia M. C. Lee*
Laboratory of Neuropsychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Institute of Clinical Neuropsychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong The State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Correspondence should be addressed to: Tatia M.C. Lee, Ph.D., R. Psych. Rm 656, Jockey Club Tower, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong. Phone: (852)3917-8394. Email:



The high prevalence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in Hong Kong, as previously reported, requires verification. Furthermore, the relationship between loneliness, depression, and cognitive impairment with regards to MCI are unclear. The present study aims to establish the prevalence of MCI in a community sample in Hong Kong and determine if participants with MCI feel significantly lonelier, even after depression has been taken into consideration.


Participants from a community sample (N = 376) were assessed with subjective and objective measures of cognitive impairments to determine whether the criteria had been met for MCI. The MCI cases are then compared with age, sex, and education-matched controls on subjective measures of loneliness and depression.


A total of 66 (17.6%) participants were diagnosed with MCI. These participants reported significantly higher levels of perceived loneliness and depression compared to the matched controls. Differences between groups in loneliness remained significant, even after depression levels have been controlled.


Loneliness is implicated in MCI. The relationship between loneliness and MCI is, at least, partially independent of depression. The implications of these finding are discussed.

Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Barrett, L., Henzi, P. and Dunbar, R. (2003). Primate cognition: from ‘what now?’ to ‘what if?’. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 494497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berkovits, I., Hancock, G. R. and Nevitt, J. (2000). Bootstrap resampling approaches for repeated measure designs: relative robustness to sphericity and normality violations. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60, 877892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boss, L., Kang, D.-H. and Branson, S. (2015). Loneliness and cognitive function in the older adult: a systematic review. International Psychogeriatrics, 27, 541553.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Census and Statistics Department (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region). (2011). Hong Kong Annual Digest of Statistics 2011. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.Google Scholar
Chan, A.C.-M. (1996). Clinical validation of the geriatric depression scale (GDS): chinese version. Journal of Aging and Health, 8, 238253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chen, L.-T. and Peng, C.-Y. (2015). The sensitivity of three methods to nonnormality and unequal variances in interval estimation of effect sizes. Behavior Research Methods, 47, 107126.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chen, S., Conwell, Y. and Chiu, H. F. K. (2014). Loneliness and aging in China–a public health problem in need of solutions. International Psychogeriatrics, 26, 17711772.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chen, Y., Hicks, A. and While, A. E. (2014). Loneliness and social support of older people in China: a systematic literature review. Health & Social Care in the Community, 22, 113123.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chou, K.-L., Jun, L.W. and Chi, I. (2005). Assessing Chinese older adults’ suicidal ideation: Chinese version of the geriatric suicide ideation scale. Aging & Mental Health, 9, 167171.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fratiglioni, L., Wang, H.-X., Ericsson, K., Maytan, M. and Winblad, B. (2000). Influence of social network on occurrence of dementia: a community-based longitudinal study. The Lancet, 355, 13151319.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Golden, J. et al. (2009). Loneliness, social support networks, mood and wellbeing in community-dwelling elderly. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 24, 694700.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gow, A. J., Corley, J., Starr, J. M. and Deary, I. J. (2013). Which social network or support factors are associated with cognitive abilities in old age?. Gerontology, 59, 454463.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Holmén, K., Ericsson, K. and Winblad, B. (2000). Social and emotional loneliness among non-demented and demented elderly people. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 31, 177192.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Holwerda, T. J. et al. (2014). Feelings of loneliness, but not social isolation, predict dementia onset: results from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL), Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 85, 135142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lam, L. C. W., Lui, V. W. C., Tam, C. W. C. and Chiu, H. F. K. (2005). Subjective memory complaints in Chinese subjects with mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer's disease. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 20, 876882.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lee, T. M. C. and Wang, K. (2010). Neuropsychological Measures: Normative Data for Chinese. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong.Google ScholarPubMed
Lopez, O. L. et al. (2003). Risk factors for mild cognitive impairment in the cardiovascular health study cognition study: part 2. Archives of Neurology, 60, 13941399.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
O'Luanaigh, C. et al. (2011). Loneliness and cognition in older people: the Dublin healthy ageing study, Aging & Mental Health, 16, 347352.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Panza, F. et al. (2010). Late-life depression, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia: possible continuum?. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18, 98116.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Petersen, R. C. (2004). Mild cognitive impairment as a diagnostic entity. Journal of Internal Medicine, 256, 183194.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Richard, E. et al. (2013). Late-life depression, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia. JAMA Neurology, 70, 383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roberts, R. O. et al. (2014). Higher risk of progression to dementia in mild cognitive impairment cases who revert to normal. Neurology, 82, 317325.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Roberts, R. and Knopman, D. S. (2013). Classification and epidemiology of MCI. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 29, 753772.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Russell, D. W. (1996). UCLA loneliness scale (Version 3): reliability, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 66, 2040.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sattler, C., Toro, P., Schönknecht, P. and Schröder, J. (2012). Cognitive activity, education and socioeconomic status as preventive factors for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Psychiatry Research, 196, 9095.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schnittger, R. I. B., Wherton, J., Prendergast, D. and Lawlor, B. A. (2012). Risk factors and mediating pathways of loneliness and social support in community-dwelling older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 16, 335346.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sheikh, J. I. and Yesavage, J. A. (1986). Geriatric depression scale (GDS): recent evidence and development of a shorter version. Clinical Gerontologist, 5, 165173.Google Scholar
Tse, M. M. Y. (2010). Therapeutic effects of an indoor gardening programme for older people living in nursing homes. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19, 949958.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wang, L. (2008). Social support and mental health of the empty-nest elderly people in urban area. Chinese Mental Health Journal, 22, 118.Google Scholar
Wilson, R. S. et al. (2007). Loneliness and Risk of Alzheimer Disease. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 234240.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed