Emotional Distress and Cognitive Functioning of Older Couples

A Dyadic Analysis

Published in: Journal of Aging and Health, v. 24, no. 1, Feb. 2012, p. 113-140

Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2012

by Jinkook Lee, Susan Paddock, Kevin Carter Feeney

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OBJECTIVE: This article examines the relationship between cognitive functioning and emotional distress in a sample of 2,684 married couples from the 2006 and 2008 Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging. METHOD: Using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CESD) scale and the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), we analyze the interrelation between emotional and cognitive health for individuals and spouses with with dyadic regression models. We test how emotional distress and cognitive impairment affect each other within individuals and from one spouse to another. RESULTS: We find emotional distress contributes to cognitive impairment for wives but not for husbands. We also find emotional distress and cognitive impairment in one spouse affects that in the other. We find no evidence that emotional distress effects spouse's cognitive impairment or that the cognitive ability impacts spouses' emotional distress. DISCUSSION: We discuss the results within the context of existing literature, focusing on the socioeconomic and clinical factors that explain these interrelations.

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