Background: China has the largest population living with dementia globally and urban-rural differences are significant in prevalence, risk factors, and health resources. Epidemiologic studies on cognitive impairment in rural areas are limited in China and other low- and middle-income countries. Objective: This study investigated cognitive impairment and associated factors in rural elderly aged 65 years and over in China. Methods: In total, 1,250 participants from ten villages in North China were recruited from June to September, 2017. Face-to-face structured interviews were conducted for data collection. The interviews included socio-demographic information, health status, and psychological assessments. Cognitive function was assessed using the Chinese version of the Mini-Mental State Examination. A multivariate logistic regression model with backward method was employed to identify factors associated with cognitive impairment. Results: The positive rate of cognitive impairment among rural Chinese elderly aged 65 years and older was 42.9% (95% CI, 40.1-45.6). No significant differences were found in cognitive impairment by age or gender before the age of 75 years. Older age, lack of formal school education, reliance on the basic living allowance as the only income source, poor hearing and vision function, diabetes, and activities of daily living dependence were associated with higher rate of cognitive impairment, while tea consumption and fatty liver disease were associated with lower cognitive impairment rate. Conclusion: A very high percentage of rural elderly in China had cognitive impairment. Education programs and prevention interventions targeting modifiable risk factors among high-risk populations should be developed through collective efforts involving all stakeholders.
- cognitive dysfunction
- older adults