Variable Details

Available Studies

MAP, MARS, Clinical Core, LATC


Not Scaled

Variable Type 


Variable Name 




Cognitive activity - late life
Frequency of participation in cognitively stimulating activity in late life - Average of 7 items

Late life cognitive activity is a composite measure of frequency of participation in 7 cognitively stimulating activities during the past year. Activities include reading, writing letters, visiting a library, and playing games such as chess or checkers. These items involve information processing or retention and have relatively few barriers to participation.

Participants are asked to rate each item on a 5-point scale. Values for items 2-7 are flipped so that higher values indicate more frequent participation (see table below). The variable ranges from 1 to 5 and is calculated by averaging the individual item scores.

Participants are asked the following questions:

  1. About how much time do you spend reading each day?
  2. In the last year, how often did you visit a library?
  3. Thinking of the last year, how often do you read newspapers?
  4. During the past year, how often did you read magazines?
  5. During the past year, how often did you read books?
  6. During the past year, how often did you write letters?
  7. During the past year, how often did you play games like checkers or other board games, cards, puzzles, etc.?

Response choices for each item:

Value Item 1 Items 2-7 (flipped)
1 None Once a year
2 Less than one hour Several times a year
3 One to less than two hours Several times a month
4 Two to less than three hours Several times a week
5 Three or more hours Every day/almost every day

Note: At baseline interview, item #2 reads, “In the last ten years, how often did you visit a library?”

The variable is calculated if at least half of the items are non-missing.

The baseline version of this variable is available upon request.