Laura Beth Zahodne

Cognitive resilience to depressive symptoms in diverse older adults

Pilot Project

Depression is a major risk factor for dementia. While much of the literature on depression and dementia has focused on relatively well-educated, non-Hispanic White, clinic-based samples, preliminary data published by the applicant suggest that older Blacks demonstrate stronger associations between depressive symptoms and cognitive functioning than older Whites. Significant knowledge gaps regarding the depression-dementia link include modifiable factors that attenuate this link and reasons for differences in resilience across racial groups. The proposed research will address each of these gaps by recruiting a racially diverse, population-representative sample of older adults for psychosocial, cognitive, and functional assessment and examining how modifiable psychosocial resources that differ across race promote cognitive resilience to depressive symptoms in a flexible structural equation modeling framework. Identifying modifiable factors that could mitigate cognitive impairment associated with depressive symptoms is of critical because the prevalence of dementia is expected to triple (to nearly 14 million cases) by 2050 (Alzheimer's Association 2016). Clarifying mechanisms of racial/ethnic disparities is particularly important given that Black older adults are at twice the risk of developing dementia than Whites, and it is projected that nearly one half of U.S. adults aged 65 and over will be racial/ethnic minorities by 2060.

Funding: Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging

Funding Period: 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2018