From “Waiting on the List” to Becoming a “Newcomer” and an “Oldtimer” in a Home for the Aged: Two Studies of Socialization and Its Impact Upon Cognitive Functioning *
Newcomers obtained higher scores than both oldtimers and waiting list persons on tests of cognitive ability. Staff members also were in constant touch with newcomers, keeping them alert to expectations for behavior, observing them closely and repeatedly sanctioning them. Newcomers were seldom left to their own devices or allowed to sit idle; they were constantly active and involved, possibly to avoid rejection by their peers or admonition by staff members. Newcomers were introduced to a social setting which required new learning on a daily basis. The oldtimers continued to show some evidence of maintenance of cognitive functioning by their gain in socialization scores. The major hypothesis was that aged persons within a stimulating social environment can perform at relatively high levels on tests of cognitive ability as compared with their socially deprived counterparts. Some studies have found that education and institutionalization are related to learning and cognitive functioning in the aged.