Life satisfaction is increasingly viewed as an asset associated with better general health, but its association with cognitive health and risk of dementia is less examined. We tested the hypothesis that higher life satisfaction would be associated with lower risk of dementia.
Participants were a nationally representative sample of adults (n = 8,021; age range: 45-93 years) from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA) assessed every two years for up to 12 years. Multilevel modeling analysis examined whether life satisfaction is associated with cognitive functioning and decline. The primary analysis used Cox regression to examine the association between baseline life satisfaction and risk of incident dementia.
Between-person differences and within-person changes in life satisfaction were associated with cognitive functioning, but life satisfaction was unrelated to the rate of cognitive decline. Higher life satisfaction was also associated with lower risk of dementia, even after accounting for demographic factors, depressive symptoms, cardiovascular and functional risk factors, health behaviors, and social contact.
Satisfaction with life may function as a positive psychological resource for maintaining cognitive functioning and protecting against risk of dementia.