Longitudinal associations of volunteering, grandparenting, and family care with processing speed: A gender perspective on prosocial activity and cognitive aging in the second half of life

Georg Henning*, Ulrike Ehrlich, Alan J. Gow, Nadiya Kelle, Graciela Muniz-Terrera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

An active lifestyle has been associated with better cognitive performance in many studies. However, most studies have focused on leisure activities or paid work, with less consideration of the kind of prosocial activities, many people engage in, including volunteering, grandparenting, and family care. In the present study, based on four waves of the German Ageing Survey (N = 6,915, aged 40-85 at baseline), we used parallel growth curves to investigate the longitudinal association of level and change in volunteering, grandparenting, and family care with level and change in processing speed. Given the gendered nature of engagement in these activities over the life span, we tested for gender differences in the associations. Only volunteering was reliably associated with higher speed of processing at baseline, no consistent longitudinal associations were found. Our results show that although prosocial activities are of great societal importance, expectations of large rewards in terms of cognitive health may be exaggerated. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-807
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology and Aging
Volume38
Issue number8
Early online date16 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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