Perceived discrimination and incident dementia among older adults in the U.S.: The buffering role of social relationships.

TitlePerceived discrimination and incident dementia among older adults in the U.S.: The buffering role of social relationships.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationForthcoming
AuthorsHsieh, N, Liu, H, Zhang, Z
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology, Series B, Psychological Sciences and social sciences
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsCognitive health, Relationship strain, Social Support, Stress
Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Recent studies have found that perceived discrimination as a chronic stressor predicts poorer cognitive health. However, little research has investigated how social relationships as potential intervening mechanisms may mitigate or exacerbate this association. Using a nationally representative sample of U.S. older adults, this study examined how the existence and quality of four types of relationships-with a partner, children, other family members, and friends-may modify the impact of perceived discrimination on incident dementia.

METHODS: We analyzed data from the 2006-2016 Health and Retirement Study (N=12,236) using discrete-time event history models with competing risks. We used perceived discrimination, social relationships, and their interactions at the baseline to predict the risk of incident dementia in the follow-ups.

RESULTS: Perceived discrimination predicted a higher risk of incident dementia in the follow-ups. Although having a partner or not did not modify this association, partnership support attenuated the negative effects of discrimination on incident dementia. Neither the existence nor quality of relationships with children, other family members, or friends modified the association.

DISCUSSION: Our findings imply that intimate partnership plays a critical role in coping with discrimination and, consequently, influencing the cognitive health of older adults. While perceived discrimination is a significant risk factor for the incidence of dementia, better partnership quality may attenuate this association. Policies that eliminate discrimination and interventions that strengthen intimate partnership may facilitate better cognitive health in late life.

DOI10.1093/geronb/gbae059
Citation Key13883
PubMed ID38587492