Effects of Stress Exposure Versus Appraisal on Episodic Memory Trajectories: Evidence for Risk and Resilience among Black Older Adults.

TitleEffects of Stress Exposure Versus Appraisal on Episodic Memory Trajectories: Evidence for Risk and Resilience among Black Older Adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationForthcoming
AuthorsMorris, EP, Brown, LL, Zaheed, AB, Palms, JD, Sol, K, Martino, A, Zahodne, LB
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series B
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsBlack/African American, Episodic Memory, Racial differences, stress appraisa
Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Chronic stressors, experienced disproportionately by Black older adults, are a risk factor for memory impairment. Racially patterned stress exposure may contribute to higher rates of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) among Black older adults compared with Whites, but less is known about the role of stress appraisal. This study examined whether chronic stress exposure mediates racial disparities in memory and whether stress appraisal moderates these associations.

METHODS: Participants included 16,924 older adults (Mage= 67.39, 21% Black) from the 2010 and 2012 waves of the Health and Retirement Study who completed measures of chronic stress exposure (health, financial, housing, relationships, and caregiving) and appraisal. Latent growth curves modeled longitudinal performance on a word list memory task over six years.

RESULTS: Black older adults reported greater stress exposure than Whites, and greater stress exposure partially mediated Black-White disparities in initial memory (standardized indirect effect=-.002, p=.009). However, Black older adults appraised stressors as less upsetting than Whites. While stress appraisal did not moderate links between stress exposure and memory, appraising stressors as less upsetting was independently associated with better initial memory. Thus, Black-White disparities in initial memory was partially offset by Blacks participants' appraisal of stressors as less upsetting (standardized indirect effect=.002, p=.016).

DISCUSSION: Reducing chronic stress exposure may reduce racial disparities in ADRD risk. The counteractive effect of stress appraisal on Black-White disparities in episodic memory highlights resilience factors among Black older adults that should be characterized in future research to move beyond deficit models of ADRD inequality.

DOI10.1093/geronb/gbab225
Citation Key12039
PubMed ID34871420