Patterns in older adults' perceived chronic stressor types and cognitive functioning trajectories: Are perceived chronic stressors always bad?

TitlePatterns in older adults' perceived chronic stressor types and cognitive functioning trajectories: Are perceived chronic stressors always bad?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsWang, K, Marbut, AR, Suntai, Z, Zheng, D, Chen, X
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume311
Pagination115297
ISSN Number0277-9536
KeywordsChallenge-hindrance perspective, cognitive functioning, Egocentric stressor, Nonegocentric stressor
Abstract

Purpose Previous studies have linked levels of perceived chronic stress to older adults' cognitive functioning, but few have focused on the impact of chronic stressor types. Thus, this study aimed to (1) identify patterns of chronic stressor types and (2) examine the effects of these patterns on cognitive functioning trajectories among older adults. Methods Two longitudinal studies were conducted separately to test the study aims and ensure replicability across samples and time points. Both used three timepoints (Study 1: 2006, 2008, and 2010, n = 6974; Study 2: 2012, 2014, and 2016, n = 6604) collected from older Americans in the Health and Retirement Study. Participants did not overlap between the two studies. Latent class analyses were conducted to identify chronic stressor-type patterns. Latent growth curve models were used to test the effects of chronic stressor-type patterns on cognitive functioning trajectories. Results Three latent classes of stressor types were identified in both studies: egocentric (4.56%; 5.85%), nonegocentric (8.58%; 10.03%), and low stressor (86.86%; 84.12%). In both studies, compared to the low stressor class, the egocentric stressor class had significantly lower initial cognitive scores (B = −0.72, ρ < 0.001; B = −0.46, ρ < 0.05), while the nonegocentric stressor class did not have significantly different initial scores, with covariates controlled. Additionally, in Study 1, the nonegocentric stressor class had significantly slower cognitive decline rates than the low stressor class (B = 0.11, ρ < 0.05). Conclusions Findings suggested that nonegocentric stressors are an important stressor source in late adulthood but are less detrimental to cognitive functioning than egocentric stressors. Health management interventions may reduce older adults' cognitive health disparities caused by self-health and financial stressors. More support, including financial subsidies, caregiver stress management training, or support groups, should be provided to older caregivers, especially those with few resources.

DOI10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115297
Citation KeyWANG2022115297