Spouse's subjective social status predicts older adults' prospective cognitive functioning
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The current study aims to investigate the association between subjective social status (SSS) and prospective cognitive functioning of older adults and their spouses, and to explore the potential mediating roles of health habits and physical activities in this association.

Using the longitudinal data of 512 pairs of community-dwelling older couples aged 65-91 years (M = 72.2 ± 4.6), we tested the effects of SSS in cognitive functioning using an Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. SSS was measured by a self-anchoring social ladder, and cognitive functioning was measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination at baseline and 4-year follow-up. Socioeconomic status (i.e. education) was tested as a moderator, and physical activity (measured by the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly) as well as health habits (i.e. tobacco and alcohol consumption) were included as potential mediators.

A partner effect of SSS was found only in the low-education group, in which the wife's higher level of SSS in the community was associated with the husband's better cognitive functioning in the follow-up. A small proportion of this effect was found to be partially mediated by participation in housework, such that the wife's higher SSS was associated with the husband's increased housework activity, which was related to higher prospective cognitive functioning.

By examining the dyadic effects of SSS with a longitudinal design, our findings extended the understanding on how subjective social status influenced older couples' cognitive health, and provided evidence-based insights for future studies on cognitive health in later life.
Acceptance Date13/11/2017
All Author(s) ListZhang F, Fung H, Kwok T
Journal nameAging and Mental Health
Volume Number23
Issue Number2
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
Pages277 - 285
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
KeywordsSubjective social status, cognitive function, older couple, socioeconomic status

Last updated on 2021-11-09 at 00:20