Weather woes? Exploring potential links between precipitation and age-related cognitive decline

Academic Article


  • Rain, snow, or ice may discourage older adults from leaving their homes with potential consequences for social isolation, decreased physical activity, and cognitive decline. This study is the first to examine potential links between annual precipitation exposure and cognitive function in a large population-based cohort of older Americans. We examined the association between precipitation (percent of days with snow or rain in the past year) and cognitive function in 25,320 individuals aged 45+ from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study. Linear mixed models assessed the relationship between precipitation and cognitive function, as well as rates of change in cognitive function with age. We found a non-linear relationship between precipitation and cognitive function. Compared to those exposed to infrequent precipitation (less than 20% of days with rain/snow in the past year), cognitive function was higher among older adults experiencing moderately frequent precipitation (20–40% of annual days with precipitation). However, beyond more than about 45% of days with precipitation in the past year, there was a negative association between precipitation and cognitive function, with faster rates of cognitive decline with age. These exploratory findings motivate further research to better understand the complex role of precipitation for late-life cognitive function.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Finlay J; Khan A; Gronlund C; Sol K; Jang J; Melendez R; Judd S; Clarke P
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 15
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 23