Marital status in older adults: Associations with memory and functional abilities in the active study
Objective. Marriage is associated with better physical and mental health, but less is known about its effects on cognitive health. We investigated the association between marital status and both cognitive and functional performance in older adults. Methods. We analyzed baseline data from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE; n=2,802) study, a multi-site randomized controlled trial of cognitive training to improve or maintain cognitive function and daily living skills. We examined cross-sectional associations between marital status (i.e., married, widowed, divorced, single) and cognitive measures (i.e., memory, reasoning, and processing speed) and functional performance (activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)) using multiple linear regressions. The standardized effect sizes were calculated based on the standard deviation of the married individuals (reference group). Results. After accounting for demographic characteristics, depressive symptoms, and cardiovascular risk factors, married individuals had significantly better performance than non-married individuals (i.e., divorced, widowed, single) on measures of memory and functional ability. On tests of memory, effect sizes ranged from 0.08-0.18 for episodic memory and 0.10-0.15 for prose memory. Further, the significant association between marital status and everyday functioning was driven by differences in IADLs (effect sizes ranged from 0.72 0.74). However, marital status was not associated with measures of reasoning or processing speed. Conclusion. Marriage may protect against cognitive and functional impairment in later life. Research is needed to clarify the mechanisms underlying the observed associations.
Social and behavioral sciences
Describe the association between marital status and cognitive performance in older adults. Describe the association between marital status and functional performance in older adults.
Keyword(s): Dementia, Elderly
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked extensively with data from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study, both as an assessor and a PhD graduate student. I have also co-authored several published manuscripts using ACTIVE data. My areas of research have focused on cognitive aging and factors which explain intraindividual differences in cognitive performance.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.