Trends in the Prevalence and Disparity in Cognitive Limitations of Americans 55-69 Years Old

Published in: The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Volume 73, Supplement 1 (May 2018), Pages S29-S37. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx155

Posted on RAND.org on May 03, 2018

by Hwajung Choi, Robert F. Schoeni, Linda G. Martin, Kenneth M. Langa

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Objectives

To determine whether the prevalence of cognitive limitation (CL) among Americans ages 55 to 69 years changed between 1998 and 2014, and to assess the trends in socioeconomic disparities in CL among groups defined by race/ethnicity, education, income, and wealth.

Method

Logistic regression using 1998–2014 data from the biennial Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative data set. CL is defined as a score of 0–11 on a 27-point cognitive battery of items focused on memory. Socioeconomic status (SES) measures are classified as quartiles.

Results

In models controlling for age, gender, and previous cognitive testing, we find no significant change over time in the overall prevalence of CL, widening disparities in limitation by income and, in some cases, wealth, and improvements among non-Hispanic whites but not other racial/ethnic groups.

Discussion

Among people 55–69, rates of CL are many times higher for groups with lower SES than those with higher SES, and recent trends show little indication that the gaps are narrowing.

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