Social support is associated with health in old age. However, it is unclear whether this association is because social support helps maintain health or because people who are healthier are also advantaged in other ways (cognitive ability, education, wealth etc.) and thus have better access to social support. To investigate possible causal direction, we examined social support in later life in relation to cognitive ability in childhood (11 years) and later life (64 years). Our participants were 266 adults aged about 64 years (132 men, 134 women) recruited to the Aberdeen Birth Cohort 1936 study. Higher childhood cognitive ability, but not cognitive ability in later life, was associated with receiving less practical and emotional support, and being less satisfied with the support received. This pattern of results suggests that the relationship between cognition and social support is determined early in life and continues into later life.
- social support
- childhood cognition