|Title||Early Origins of Frailty: Do Later-Life Social Relationships Alter Trajectories of Decline?|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2023|
|Authors||Williams-Farrelly, MM, Ferraro, KF|
|Journal||J Aging Health|
|Keywords||adult relationships, childhood experiences, Social Relationships|
Social relationships are widely regarded as salubrious, but do they mediate the influence of childhood experiences on frailty in later life? Drawing from cumulative inequality theory, we assess the influence of childhood experiences and adult relationships on frailty trajectories. We analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the influence of six domains of childhood experiences and social relationships on frailty trajectories over 8 years. Mediation analyses were completed with structural equation models. Risky adolescent behavior, chronic disease, and impairments during childhood are associated directly with higher risk of initial frailty, but not over time. More social roles and higher social support mediate the relationship between childhood experiences and frailty, and the effect of more social roles continues over time. This study provides compelling evidence that supportive social relationships mediate the risk and severity of frailty in later life associated with noxious childhood experiences.