Widowhood Status as a Risk Factor for Cognitive Decline among Older Adults.

TitleWidowhood Status as a Risk Factor for Cognitive Decline among Older Adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsShin, SHyun, Kim, G, Park, S
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Date Published07/2018
ISSN Number1545-7214
KeywordsBereavement, Cognitive Ability, Risk Factors, Widowhood

OBJECTIVES: This study investigated whether widowhood status has an effect on cognitive decline among older adults in the United States.

DESIGN: Longitudinal analysis of existing secondary data.

SETTING: The 1996-2012 waves of the Health and Retirement Study.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 6,766 individuals (28,420 observations) aged 50 years and older who responded to all questions.

MEASUREMENTS: Widow/widower status, cognitive functioning score, and various covariates.

RESULTS: Growth-curve models show that after controlling for covariates, widowhood status was related to cognitive decline (95% CI: -0.8090, -0.4674). We also found a linear relationship between time since spousal loss and cognitive decline. Conditional upon spousal bereavement status, higher education and having at least one living sibling were found to be protective factors against cognitive decline.

CONCLUSIONS: Widowhood status accelerated cognitive decline over time among widowed older adults. Findings suggest that extra support is needed to monitor cognitive functioning for those experiencing widowhood.

User Guide Notes


Alternate JournalAm J Geriatr Psychiatry
Citation Key9636
PubMed ID29748078