Is lower cognitive function in one spouse associated with depressive symptoms in the other spouse?

Kimberly A. Skarupski, Carlos F.Mendes De Leon, Judith J. McCann, Julia L. Bienias, Robert S. Wilson, Denis A. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examines whether lower cognitive function in one spouse is associated with depressive symptoms in the other spouse. The subjects were 528 community-dwelling spouse pairs aged 65+ who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), an ongoing longitudinal, bi-racial, population-based study of risk factors for incident Alzheimer's disease and other age-related chronic conditions. CHAP participants were assessed at 3-year intervals over a period of nearly ten years. The results show a cross-sectional association of wives' lower cognitive function at baseline with depressive symptoms in husbands; however, husbands' cognitive function was not associated with wives' depressive symptoms. There was no longitudinal association of cognitive function at baseline with increased depressive symptoms over time. Furthermore, change in cognitive function over time had no effect on depressive symptoms in either spouse. The relationship between cognitive function and depressive symptoms in spouse pairs is complex. Our findings suggest that husbands may be particularly psychologically vulnerable to the negative effects of their wives' cognitive impairment. This vulnerability may have a range of long-term health and caregiving implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-630
Number of pages10
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume10
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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