Social Engagement and Cognitive Function of Older Adults in Mexico and the United States: How Universal Is the Health Concordance in Couples?

Bret Howrey , University of Texas Medical Branch
Jaqueline Avila, University of Texas Medical Branch
Brian Downer, University of Texas Medical Branch
Rebeca Wong, University of Texas at Galveston

Increased levels of social engagement have been associated with positive cognitive outcomes across different populations. Social engagement places high demands on cognitive skills and may confer increases in cognitive reserve through positive feedback. Among heterosexual married couples, wives tend to be more active in social activities and socially engaged. This engagement may have direct benefits to the wives as well as spillover benefits for the husbands. In addition, cultural differences may alter the strength and direction of these effects. We use data from the Health and Retirement Survey and the Mexican Health and Aging Study to examine the association of social engagement with cognition among married couples using actor-partner interdependence models. Initial results suggest that husbands may benefit from a wife’s social engagement, but these effects are not reciprocal.

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 Presented in Session 6. Health & Mortality & Aging