Examining Socioeconomic Variation in the Co-Evolution of Cognitive Decline and Functional Limitations among the Oldest Old

Nicholas J. Bishop, Arizona State University

This research examines how socioeconomic position (SEP) developed across the lifecourse influences the co-evolution of cognitive and functional trajectories among the oldest Americans. Parallel-process latent growth models with controls for mortality selection were used to examine the inter-relation of cognitive health, as measured by immediate and delayed word-recall scores, and functional health, as measured by activities of daily living (ADLs). Observations were drawn from the nationally representative Assets and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old Study (AHEAD; 1998-2008). Preliminary results indicate that baseline cognitive function was negatively related to initial number of functional limitations and number of functional limitations developed over time. Select measures of SEP were important predictors of baseline cognitive and physical function but were less helpful in predicting changes in cognitive and functional health trajectories. These results indicate that socioeconomic disparities in cognitive and functional health are crystallized prior to the latest years of life.

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Presented in Session 110: Trends and Dynamics in Health and Disability in Later Life