Associations between life course marital biography and late-life memory decline.

TitleAssociations between life course marital biography and late-life memory decline.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsZaheed, AB, Sharifian, N, Morris, EP, A Kraal, Z, Zahodne, LB
JournalPsychology and Aging Publisher
ISSN Number1939-1498
Keywordscognitive aging, life course, Marital Status

Late-life marital status is associated with cognitive aging; however, the influence of life course marital biography (i.e., changes in marital status) on late-life cognitive trajectories, as well as gender differences in the effects of marital biography, remain to be explored. Associations between (a) marital status at study baseline (currently married, previously married, never married) and (b) retrospectively reported life course marital biography (i.e., age at first marriage, time spent unmarried following initial marriage, history of divorce, history of widowhood) and up to 20 years of subsequent episodic memory trajectories were examined using latent growth curve models in 3,061 participants aged 51 + in the Health and Retirement Study 2017 Life History Mail Survey. Gender differences were examined with multiplicative interaction terms and stratified models. Participants who were married at study baseline demonstrated higher initial memory than previously and never married individuals. Older age at first marriage and shorter duration spent unmarried were each associated with better initial episodic memory among previously married individuals only; longer duration spent unmarried was associated with slower memory decline. Stratified models suggested that these associations may be driven by women. These results highlight the importance of considering multiple aspects of marital biography, not just current marital status, in cognitive aging research. Marital biography may have an enduring influence on cognitive aging, particularly among previously married older women. Future work is needed to identify mechanisms (e.g., socioeconomic resources, cognitive stimulation, self and spousal health, emotional support) through which marital histories influence cognitive aging. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Citation Key11711
PubMed ID34166026
Grant List / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States