Montoro-Rodriguez, J., & Hayslip, B. (2024). Do social connections impact the health and functioning of persons with dementia?. International Psychogeriatrics. https://doi.org/doi:10.1017/S1041610224000036
A recent scoping review by Joshi and colleagues in the multidisciplinary journal of International Psychogeriatrics reports on the existing empirical evidence of social connections as a possible social determinant of cognitive decline in adults with or at risk of developing ADRD (Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders) (Joshi et al., 2024). They conducted a review of 11 meta-analyses and systematic reviews of social connections and cognitive decline in adults with or at risk of developing ADRD, and 8 systematic reviews of technology-based social intervention to enhance social connections for persons with ADRD. The authors concluded that social engagement and social activities seem to be the most consistent components of social connection for improving cognitive health in adults with or at risk for ADRD. Likewise, they reported that socially focused technology-based and other social support interventions only aid in improving social activities and connection in persons with ADRD. The limited empirical evidence supporting social connection as a significant determinant of health in adults at risk of ADRD, and the poor performance of interventions targeting social connectedness came as a surprise to Joshi et al. After discussing potential explanations for and limitations of such findings, the authors called for research to engage in relevant meta-analyses and systematic reviews to examine the role of social connection and isolation as social determinants of brain health in adults at risk of ADRD.