Loneliness, Sense of Control, and Risk of Dementia in Healthy Older Adults: A Moderated Mediation Analysis

Hwajin Yang, Germaine Y.Q. Tng, Wee Qin Ng, Sujin Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: Despite the rising prevalence of dementia, little research has been conducted to identify modifiable psychological factors that alleviate the risk of dementia in older adults and the underlying mechanisms. Given that loneliness is, in part, concomitant with a weakened sense of control, we examined whether sense of control would mediate the relation between loneliness and dementia risk. Further, considering that working -memory capacity is a critical cognitive resource that serves as a buffer against age-related cognitive decline, we examined a second-order moderated mediational model whereby working-memory capacity moderates the relation between control beliefs and dementia risk in older adults. Methods: We administered a series of measures to older community-dwelling adults (ages 60–93; N = 69), including the participant-rated AD8 to assess the risk of dementia. Using the PROCESS macro, we examined the moderated mediation model for the relation between loneliness, sense of control, and dementia risk. Results: We found that sense of control significantly mediated the relation between loneliness and risk of dementia. Moreover, the indirect effect of loneliness on dementia risk via lowered sense of control was significant only in individuals with poorer working-memory capacity. Notably, these findings held true when important covariates were controlled for. Conclusions: Our findings underscore the critical role of control beliefs and working memory in protecting against dementia risk. Clinical implications: Our findings have implications for intervention programs that target alleviating dementia risk and promoting healthy aging in older adults by improving socioemotional health and cognitive functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-405
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the the Ministry of Education Singapore (17-C242-SMU-008); the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2018S1A5A8027819). We thank our research assistants (Danish Ramlan, Geraldine Tng, Jeanette Cheong, Lim Pei Shan, Luqman Nur Hakim Bin Wahab, and Ng Rui Bing), who assisted with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • control beliefs
  • dementia
  • loneliness
  • perceived constraints
  • working memory


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