Learning to Cope: Examining Effects of Self- and Caregiver Education on the Link Between Cognitive Impairment and Depression

William McConnell , Florida Atlantic University

The burden of Alzheimer’s disease includes not only the degenerative effects of the illness itself, but also its disruptive effects on other aspects of individuals’ lives, including development comorbid mental health problems. Using longitudinal clinical data collected from 691 Alzheimer’s Disease patients observed annually between 1990-2018, this study examines the relationship between cognition and depression during Alzheimer’s disease. I use mixed effects negative binomial regression models to examine whether or not patients’ and caregivers’ educational attainment moderate the impact of cognitive impairment on depression. I find that both a patient’s own educational attainment and that of their primary caregiver have a direct protective effect on the patient’s mental health. However, the benefit received from caregivers’ education is conditional. Only among the most vulnerable older adults, access to a more educated caregiver eliminates the health deficit reported by those adults relative to their more educated peers.

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 Presented in Session 6. Health & Mortality & Aging