A national longitudinal study of marital quality and cognitive decline among older men and women

TitleA national longitudinal study of marital quality and cognitive decline among older men and women
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsLiu, H, Zhang, Z, Zhang, Y
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume282
Pagination114151
ISBN Number0277-9536
KeywordsAging, cognitive function, gender, Marital quality
Abstract

We provide one of the first national longitudinal studies of the association between trajectories of marital quality and cognitive functioning among older adults, with close attention paid to gender differences. Data were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) 2006–2016. Marital quality trajectories were assessed at three waves: 2006/2008, 2010/2012, and 2014/2016. Cognitive trajectories were assessed at five waves: 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. The final analytic sample included 7901 respondents age 50 and older (4334 men and 3567 women) who were either married or cohabiting during the study period. Results from parallel linear growth curve models suggest that among older adults, initial positive marital quality was associated with better initial cognition, and initial negative marital quality was associated with worse initial cognition. Results from multiple group analysis further suggest that marital quality was significantly associated with men's cognitive trajectories but not women's. Among men, an increase in positive marital quality was associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline, whereas an increase in negative marital quality was associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline. These findings suggest that older men who experience a decline in marital quality may be vulnerable to cognitive decline and that reducing marital strain and improving marital quality may protect men's cognitive health in later life.

DOI10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114151
Citation Key11694