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(HealthDay News) — Upward and downward socioeconomic status (SES) transitions are associated with the risk for dementia and the length of dementia-free periods during the lifespan, according to a study published online May 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Ryoto Sakaniwa, PhD, from Osaka University in Japan, and colleagues investigated the association of lifetime SES transition with the risk for dementia. The analysis included data from 9,186 participants (aged 65 years and older) in the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study.

The researchers identified six SES transitions: upward, stable-high, upper-middle, lower-middle, downward and stable-low. Dementia risk factors, such as lifestyle behaviors, comorbidities and social factors, were associated with SES transition patterns. The lowest risk for dementia was seen for upward transition (hazard ratio [HR], 0.66), followed by stable-high (HR, 0.77), downward (HR, 1.15), and stable-low (HR 1.45) transition, compared with lower-middle SES. Upward SES transition was associated with the greatest increases in dementia-free years in the lifespan (e.g., 1.8 years at age 65 years), while the downward transition was associated with the largest loss in lifetime dementia-free years at age 75 years or older (e.g., −1.4 years at age 85 years).

“Physical characteristics and lifestyle behaviors were major mediating factors in upward, stable-high, and stable-low SES transitions, while only social factors were mediating factors in downward SES transitions,” the authors write.

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