Holyrood Park in December 2016, by Mark Cherrie

Green space and cognitive ageing: A retrospective life course analysis in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936

Abstract

International evidence suggests that green space has beneficial effects on general and mental health but little is known about how lifetime exposure to green space influences cognitive ageing. Employing a novel, longitudinal, life course approach, we examined the association between lifetime availability of public parks and cognitive ageing. Lifetime residential information was gathered from the participants of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 using a ‘life-grid’ questionnaire at age 78 years. Parks information from 1949, 1969 and 2009 was used to determine a percentage of parks within a 1,500 m buffer zone surrounding residence for childhood, adulthood, and later adulthood periods. Linear regressions were undertaken to test for association with age-standardised, residualised change in cognitive function (Moray House Test score) from age 11 to 70 years, and from age 70 to 76. The most appropriate model was selected using the results of a partial F-test, and then stratified by demographic, genetic and socioeconomic factors. The local provision of park space in childhood and adulthood were both important in explaining the change in cognitive function in later life. The association between childhood and adulthood park availability and change in the Moray House Test Score from age 70 to 76 was strongest for women, those without an APOE e4 allele (a genetic risk factor), and those in the lowest socioeconomic groups. Greater neighbourhood provision of public parks from childhood through to adulthood may help to slow down the rate of cognitive decline in later life, recognising that such environmental associations are always sensitive to individual characteristics.

Publication
In Social Science and Medicine
Date