Association of work-family experience with mid- and late-life memory decline in US women.

TitleAssociation of work-family experience with mid- and late-life memory decline in US women.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMayeda, ER, Mobley, TM, Weiss, RE, Murchland, AR, Berkman, LF, Sabbath, EL
ISSN Number1526-632X
KeywordsCognition, women, work-family interference

OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that lifecourse patterns of employment, marriage, and childrearing influence later-life rate of memory decline among women, we examined the relationship of work-family experiences between ages 16 and 50 years and memory decline after age 55 years among U.S. women.

METHODS: Participants were women ages ≥55 years in the Health and Retirement Study. Participants reported employment, marital, and parenthood statuses between ages 16 and 50 years. Sequence analysis was used to group women with similar work-family life histories; we identified 5 profiles characterized by similar timing and transitions of combined work, marital, and parenthood statuses. Memory performance was assessed biennially 1995-2016. We estimated associations between work-family profiles and later-life memory decline with linear mixed-effects models adjusted for practice effects, baseline age, race/ethnicity, birth region, childhood socioeconomic status, and educational attainment.

RESULTS: There were 6,189 study participants (n = 488 working non-mothers, n = 4,326 working married mothers, n = 530 working single mothers, n = 319 non-working single mothers, n = 526 non-working married mothers). Mean baseline age was 57.2 years; average follow-up was 12.3 years. Between ages 55 and 60, memory scores were similar across work-family profiles. After age 60, average rate of memory decline was 50% greater among women whose work-family profiles did not include working for pay post-childbearing, compared with those who were working mothers.

CONCLUSIONS: Women who worked for pay in early adulthood and midlife experienced slower rates of later-life memory decline, regardless of marital and parenthood status, suggesting participation in the paid labor force may protect against later-life memory decline.

Citation Key11214
PubMed ID33148811
PubMed Central IDPMC7734924