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Social connections have a significant impact on health across age groups, including older adults. Loneliness and social isolation are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). Yet, we did not find a review focused on meta-analyses and systematic reviews of studies that had examined associations of social connections with cognitive decline and trials of technology-based and other social interventions to enhance social connections in people with ADRD.
We conducted a scoping review of 11 meta-analyses and systematic reviews of social connections as possible determinants of cognitive decline in older adults with or at risk of developing ADRD. We also examined eight systematic reviews of technology-based and other social interventions in persons with ADRD.
The strongest evidence for an association of social connections with lower risk of cognitive decline was related to social engagement and social activities. There was also evidence linking social network size to cognitive function or cognitive decline, but it was not consistently significant. A number of, though not all, studies reported a significant association of marital status with risk of ADRD. Surprisingly, evidence showing that social support reduces the risk of ADRD was weak. To varying degrees, technology-based and other social interventions designed to reduce loneliness in people with ADRD improved social connections and activities as well as quality of life but had no significant impact on cognition. We discuss strengths and limitations of the studies included.
Social engagement and social activities seem to be the most consistent components of social connections for improving cognitive health among individuals with or at risk for ADRD. Socially focused technology-based and other social interventions aid in improving social activities and connections and deserve more research.
Several etiologies can underlie the development of late-onset psychosis, defined by first psychotic episode after age 40 years. Late-onset psychosis is distressing to patients and caregivers, often difficult to diagnose and treat effectively, and associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
The literature was reviewed with searches in Pubmed, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane library. Search terms included “psychosis,” “delusions,” hallucinations,” “late onset,” “secondary psychoses,” “schizophrenia,” bipolar disorder,” “psychotic depression,” “delirium,” “dementia,” “Alzheimer’s,” “Lewy body,” “Parkinson’s, “vascular dementia,” and “frontotemporal dementia.” This overview covers the epidemiology, clinical features, neurobiology, and therapeutics of late-onset psychoses.
Late-onset schizophrenia, delusional disorder, and psychotic depression have unique clinical characteristics. The presentation of late-onset psychosis requires investigation for underlying etiologies of “secondary” psychosis, which include neurodegenerative, metabolic, infectious, inflammatory, nutritional, endocrine, and medication toxicity. In delirium, psychosis is common but controlled evidence is lacking to support psychotropic medication use. Delusions and hallucinations are common in Alzheimer’s disease, and hallucinations are common in Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Psychosis in dementia is associated with increased agitation and a poor prognosis. Although commonly used, no medications are currently approved for treating psychosis in dementia patients in the USA and nonpharmacological interventions need consideration.
The plethora of possible causes of late-onset psychosis requires accurate diagnosis, estimation of prognosis, and cautious clinical management because older adults have greater susceptibility to the adverse effects of psychotropic medications, particularly antipsychotics. Research is warranted on developing and testing efficacious and safe treatments for late-onset psychotic disorders.
Wisdom is a personality trait comprising seven components: self-reflection, pro-social behaviors, emotional regulation, acceptance of diverse perspectives, decisiveness, social advising, and spirituality. Wisdom, a potentially modifiable trait, is strongly associated with well-being. We have published a validated 28-item San Diego Wisdom Scale, the SD-WISE-28. Brief scales are necessary for use in large population-based studies and in clinical practice. The present study aimed to create an abbreviated 7-item version of the SD-WISE.
Participants included 2093 people, aged 20-82 years, recruited and surveyed through the online crowdsourcing platform Amazon Mechanical Turk. The participants’ mean age was 46 years, with 55% women. Participants completed the SD-WISE-28 as well as validation scales for various positive and negative constructs. Psychometric analyses (factor analysis and item response theory) were used to select one item from each of the seven SD-WISE-28 subscales.
We selected a combination of items that produced acceptable unidimensional model fit and good reliability (ω = 0.74). Item statistics suggested that all seven items were strong indicators of wisdom, although the association was weakest for spirituality. Analyses indicated that the 28-item and 7-item SD-WISE are both very highly correlated (r = 0.92) and produce a nearly identical pattern of correlations with demographic and validity variables.
The SD-WISE-7, and its derived Jeste-Thomas Wisdom Index (JTWI) score, balances reliability and brevity for research applications.
The relationship between wisdom and fluid intelligence (Gf) is poorly understood, particularly in older adults. We empirically tested the magnitude of the correlation between wisdom and Gf to help determine the extent of overlap between these two constructs.
Cross-sectional study with preregistered hypotheses and well-powered analytic plan (https://osf.io/h3pjx).
Memory and Aging Center at the University of California San Francisco, located in the USA.
Wisdom was quantified using a well-validated self-report-based scale (San Diego Wisdom Scale or SD-WISE). Gf was assessed via composite measures of processing speed (Gf-PS) and executive functioning (Gf-EF). The relationships of SD-WISE scores to Gf-PS and Gf-EF were tested in bivariate correlational analyses and multiple regression models adjusted for demographics (age, sex, and education). Exploratory analyses evaluated the relationships between SD-WISE and age, episodic memory performance, and dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortical volumes on magnetic resonance imaging.
Wisdom showed a small, positive association with Gf-EF (r = 0.181 [95% CI 0.016, 0.336], p = .031), which was reduced to nonsignificance upon controlling for demographics, and no association with Gf-PS (r = 0.019 [95% CI −0.179, 0.216], p = .854). Wisdom demonstrated a small, negative correlation with age (r = −0.197 [95% CI −0.351, −0.033], p = .019), but was not significantly related to episodic memory or prefrontal volumes.
Our findings indicate that most of the variance in wisdom (>95%) is unaccounted for by Gf. The independence of wisdom from cognitive functions that reliably show age-associated declines suggests that it may hold unique potential to bolster decision-making, interpersonal functioning, and other everyday activities in older adults.
The current cross-sectional study examined cognition and performance-based functional abilities in a continuing care senior housing community (CCSHC) that is comparable to other CCSHCs in the US with respect to residents’ demographic characteristics.
Participants were 110 older adult residents of the independent living unit. We assessed sociodemographics, mental health, neurocognitive functioning, and functional capacity.
Compared to normative samples, participants performed at or above expectations in terms of premorbid functioning, attention span and working memory, processing speed, timed set-shifting, inhibitory control, and confrontation naming. They performed below expectation in verbal fluency and verbal and visual learning and memory, with impairment rates [31.4% (>1 SD below the mean) and 18.49% (>1.5 SD below the mean)] well above the general population (16% and 7%, respectively). Within the cognitive test battery, two tests of delayed memory were most predictive of a global deficit score. Most cognitive test scores correlated with performance-based functional capacity.
Overall, results suggest that a subset of older adults in the independent living sector of CCSHCs are cognitively and functionally impaired and are at risk for future dementia. Results also argue for the inclusion of memory tests in abbreviated screening batteries in this population. We suggest that CCSHCs implement regular cognitive screening procedures to identify and triage those older adults who could benefit from interventions and, potentially, a transition to a higher level of care.
The ultimate goal of artificial intelligence (AI) is to develop technologies that are best able to serve humanity. This will require advancements that go beyond the basic components of general intelligence. The term “intelligence” does not best represent the technological needs of advancing society, because it is “wisdom”, rather than intelligence, that is associated with greater well-being, happiness, health, and perhaps even longevity of the individual and the society. Thus, the future need in technology is for artificial wisdom (AW).
We examine the constructs of human intelligence and human wisdom in terms of their basic components, neurobiology, and relationship to aging, based on published empirical literature. We review the development of AI as inspired and driven by the model of human intelligence, and consider possible governing principles for AW that would enable humans to develop computers which can operationally utilize wise principles and result in wise acts. We review relevant examples of current efforts to develop such wise technologies.
AW systems will be based on developmental models of the neurobiology of human wisdom. These AW systems need to be able to a) learn from experience and self-correct; b) exhibit compassionate, unbiased, and ethical behaviors; and c) discern human emotions and help the human users to regulate their emotions and make wise decisions.
A close collaboration among computer scientists, neuroscientists, mental health experts, and ethicists is necessary for developing AW technologies, which will emulate the qualities of wise humans and thus serve the greatest benefit to humanity. Just as human intelligence and AI have helped further the understanding and usefulness of each other, human wisdom and AW can aid in promoting each other’s growth
Aging is associated with numerous stressors that negatively impact older adults’ well-being. Resilience improves ability to cope with stressors and can be enhanced in older adults. Senior housing communities are promising settings to deliver positive psychiatry interventions due to rising resident populations and potential impact of delivering interventions directly in the community. However, few intervention studies have been conducted in these communities. We present a pragmatic stepped-wedge trial of a novel psychological group intervention intended to improve resilience among older adults in senior housing communities.
A pragmatic modified stepped-wedge trial design.
Five senior housing communities in three states in the US.
Eighty-nine adults over age 60 years residing in independent living sector of senior housing communities.
Raise Your Resilience, a manualized 1-month group intervention that incorporated savoring, gratitude, and engagement in value-based activities, administered by unlicensed residential staff trained by researchers. There was a 1-month control period and a 3-month post-intervention follow-up.
Validated self-report measures of resilience, perceived stress, well-being, and wisdom collected at months 0 (baseline), 1 (pre-intervention), 2 (post-intervention), and 5 (follow-up).
Treatment adherence and satisfaction were high. Compared to the control period, perceived stress and wisdom improved from pre-intervention to post-intervention, while resilience improved from pre-intervention to follow-up. Effect sizes were small in this sample, which had relatively high baseline resilience. Physical and mental well-being did not improve significantly, and no significant moderators of change in resilience were identified.
This study demonstrates feasibility of conducting pragmatic intervention trials in senior housing communities. The intervention resulted in significant improvement in several measures despite ceiling effects. The study included several features that suggest high potential for its implementation and dissemination across similar communities nationally. Future studies are warranted, particularly in samples with lower baseline resilience or in assisted living facilities.