Successful Aging and Longevity in Older Old Women: The Role of Depression and Cognition

Department of Psychology and Institute of Gerontology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202-3801, USA.
Journal of aging research 07/2011; 2011:912680. DOI: 10.4061/2011/912680
Source: PubMed


Based in successful aging theory and terminal cognitive drop research, this paper investigates cerebrovascular burden (CVB), depressive symptoms, and cognitive decline as threats to longevity. A subsample of stroke-free women over the age of 80 was identified in the Health and Retirement Survey (years 2000-2008). Mortality at 2, 6, and 8 year intervals was predicted using CVB (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension), depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale), and cognitive decline (decline of 1 standard deviation or more on the 35-point Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status over 2 years). At most waves (2002, 2004, and 2006) mortality was predicted by CVB, depressive symptoms, and cognitive drop measured 2 years prior. CVB and depressive symptoms at the 2000 wave predicted mortality at 6 and 8 years. Older women with the greatest longevity had low CVB, robust cognitive functioning, and few depression symptoms, supporting successful aging theory and terminal cognitive drop.

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    • "A lower cerebrovascular burden in the oldest-old is associated with longevity, fewer depressive symptoms, and stable cognitive function.27 Table 2 shows that the effect of certain cognitive tests (digit cancellation, comparing figures, mental rotations, and verbal fluency) remains in the healthy groups (ie, those not affected by hypertension, stroke, or dementia), meaning that the results are not based on a lower LS score due to effects of stroke or dementia per se. "
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