Senior with dementia

(HealthDay News) — Higher educational attainment seems to protect adults from cognitive decline, according to a study published online April 19 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Dylan J. Jester, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of California San Diego in La Jolla, and colleagues used data from 20,311 Black, Hispanic, and White adults (aged 51 to 100 years) participating in the Health and Retirement Study (2008 to 2016) to examine the effect of years of education on the maintenance of healthy cognitive functioning.

The researchers found that on average, Black and Hispanic adults had lower cognitive scores at baseline versus White adults regardless of educational attainment. Across races, the rate of cognitive decline was nonlinear, with a period of stability witnessed for those with higher educational attainment. Higher-educated White adults received the greatest protection from cognitive decline (13 years), followed by Hispanic (12 years) and Black adults (10 years) compared with adults with lower educational attainment.

“Our findings suggest that efforts to improve access to high-quality education and social mobility may have long-lasting effects on the risk of cognitive decline in older age,” Jester said in a statement.

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