Hikichi, H.(引地博之), Kondo, K., Takeda, T., & Kawachi, I. (2016).
Social interaction and cognitive decline: Results of a 7-year community intervention
Alzheimer's & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions. 
doi: 10.1016/j.trci.2016.11.003

There are few intervention studies that demonstrated linking social participation to lower risk of cognitive decline. We examined prospectively the protective effect of a community intervention program promoting social participation on the incidence of cognitive disability.

The baseline was established in a survey of community-dwelling older people aged 65 years old or more in July 2006 (2793 respondents, response rate 48.5%). The setting was Taketoyo town in Japan, where municipal authorities launched an intervention that was based on the establishment of community-based centers called “salons,” where the town’s senior residents could congregate and participate in social activities, ranging from arts and crafts, games, and interactive activities with preschool children. Three salons were established in May 2010, and a total of 10 salons were in operation by 2013. We recorded the frequency of salon participation among survey respondents till 2013 and conducted two follow-up surveys (in 2010 and 2013) to collect information about health status and behaviors. The onset of cognitive disability was followed from May 2007 to January 2014. We used the marginal structural models to evaluate the effect of program.

The range of prevalence of cognitive disability was from 0.2% to 2.5% during the observation period. The proportion of respondents who participates to salons increased over time to about 11.7%. The frequency of salon participation was protectively associated with cognitive decline, even after adjusting for time-dependent covariates and attrition (odds ratio = 0.73, 95% confidence interval: 0.54–0.99).

Our study suggests that operating community salons that encourage social interactions, light physical activity, and cognitive activities among older participants may be effective for preventing cognitive decline. In future studies, we need to understand what sorts of activities (e.g., those involving light physical activity vs. purely intellectual activities) are most effective in maintaining cognitive function.