Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Aging-Psychological Disorders, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Language-Thought, Neuroscience.

Description: Here is a somewhat backhanded test of your current understanding of factors relating to rates of dementia in elder individuals. What would you predict about the comparable rates of depression among otherwise similar groups of literate and illiterate elderly individuals? If you think there will be a rate difference between these two groups what would you hypothesize as a reason for that difference and what other aspects of the experiences or abilities of individuals in those two groups would you predict would also differ. Once you have your thoughts in order read the article linked below to see, among other things, why you should be very please that you CAN read the article linked below.

Source: People who cannot read may be three times as likely to develop dementia, Science News, ScienceDaily,

Date: November 14, 2019

Photo Credit:  PIC MODELLED and

Article Link:

As the article suggests it is most likely (it makes sense) that it is the broad array of brain stimulating things that being literate makes possible that could be linked to lower rates (3 times lower) of dementia among elderly people. If this finding bears up with replication it certainly highlights another of the significant social benefits of all efforts directed towards decreasing rates of illiteracy. Think of the broad array of social costs that are likely linked to rates of illiteracy. Literacy rates in Canada and the United States are 99% and while that look virtually absolute it means that 3.2 million Americans and 376,000 Canadians are illiterate and as such at risk for the 3 times higher rate of dementia noted in the linked article. Clearly life-long benefits of any costs associated with reducing rates of illiteracy further (not to mention the fact that the global literacy rate is much lower at 86%).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are rates of dementia related to levels of literacy and if so how?
  2. Why might literacy lead to a significantly reduce risk of dementia?
  3. How might the findings of the research discussed in the linked article be useful in efforts to reduce the impact of dementia in our aging population?

References (Read Further):

Rentería, M. A., Vonk, J. M., Felix, G., Avila, J. F., Zahodne, L. B., Dalchand, E., … & Manly, J. J. (2019). Illiteracy, dementia risk, and cognitive trajectories among older adults with low education. Neurology.,.4.aspx

Kaup, A. R., Simonsick, E. M., Harris, T. B., Satterfield, S., Metti, A. L., Ayonayon, H. N., … & Yaffe, K. (2013). Older adults with limited literacy are at increased risk for likely dementia. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, 69(7), 900-906.

Scazufca, M., Almeida, O. P., & Menezes, P. R. (2010). The role of literacy, occupation and income in dementia prevention: the São Paulo Ageing & Health Study (SPAH). International psychogeriatrics, 22(8), 1209-1215.

Millard, F. B., Kennedy, R. L., & Baune, B. T. (2011). Dementia: opportunities for risk reduction and early detection in general practice. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 17(1), 89-94.