|Neighborhood Features and Cognitive Function: Moderating Roles of Individual Socioeconomic Status.
|Year of Publication
|Yang, T-C, Kim, S, Choi, S-WEmily, Halloway, S, Mitchell, UA, Shaw, BA
|American journal of preventive medicine
|cognitive function, low-education, low-income, Older Adults, socioeconomic status
INTRODUCTION: There is an interest in exploring the associations between neighborhood characteristics and individual cognitive function; however, little is known about whether these relationships can be modified by individual socioeconomic status, such as educational attainment and income.
METHODS: Drawing from the 2010-2018 Health and Retirement Study, this study analyzed 10,621 older respondents (aged 65+) with a total of 33,931 person-waves. These respondents did not have dementia in 2010 and stayed in the same neighborhood throughout the study period. Cognitive function was measured with a 27-point indicator biennially, and neighborhood characteristics (i.e., walkability, concentrated disadvantage, and social isolation) were assessed in 2010. All analyses were performed in 2023.
RESULTS: Cognitive function is positively associated with neighborhood walkability and negatively related to concentrated disadvantage, suggesting that exposures to these neighborhood characteristics have long-lasting impacts on cognitive function. Furthermore, individual socioeconomic status modifies the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and cognitive function. Compared with those graduating from college, respondents without a bachelor's degree consistently have lower cognitive function but the educational gap in cognitive function narrows with increases in walkability (b= -0.152, SE=0.092), and widens when neighborhood concentrated disadvantage (b=0.212, SE=0.070) or social isolation (b=0.315, SE=0.125) rises. The income gap in cognitive function shrinks with increases in walkability (b= -0.063, SE=0.027).
CONCLUSIONS: The moderating role of socioeconomic status indicates that low-socioeconomic status older adults who also live in disadvantaged neighborhoods face a higher risk of poor cognitive function. Low-education and low-income aging adults may have the most to gain from investments to improve neighborhood characteristics.