Ethnically diverse older adults' beliefs about staying mentally sharp

Daniela B. Friedman, Sarah B. Laditka, James N. Laditka, Bei Wu, Rui Liu, Anna E. Price, Winston Tseng, Sara J. Corwin, Susan L. Ivey, Rebecca Hunter, Joseph R. Sharkey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined diverse older adults' (n = 396, ages 50+) views about how to stay mentally sharp. We conducted 42 focus groups in four languages at nine United States locations using a standardized discussion guide and methods. The groups represented African Americans, American Indians, Chinese Americans, Latinos, Whites other than Latinos, and Vietnamese Americans. All groups mentioned benefits of social interaction. All groups, especially Chinese and African Americans, mentioned benefits of community engagement. Participants in all groups expressed their belief that mental stimulation, particularly reading, promoted cognitive health; African Americans and Whites were especially likely to say that mental exercises (e.g., puzzles) were useful. Results suggest opportunities for education about potential cognitive health benefits of being socially connected through senior center activities and volunteer programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-52
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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