Does an engaged and active lifestyle in old age alleviate cognitive decline, does high cognitive functioning in old age increase the possibility of maintaining an engaged and active lifestyle, or both? The authors approach this conundrum by applying a structural equation model for testing dynamic hypotheses, the dual change score model (J. J. McArdle & F. Hamagami, 2001), to 3-occasion longitudinal data from the Berlin Aging Study (Time 1: n=516, age range=70-103 years). Results reveal that within a bivariate system of perceptual speed and social participation, with age and sociobiographical status as covariates, prior scores of social participation influence subsequent changes in perceptual speed, while the opposite does not hold. Results support the hypothesis that an engaged and active lifestyle in old and very old age may alleviate decline in perceptual speed.
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