Cumulative socioeconomic exposures, cash transfer interventions, and later-life cognitive decline and dementia risk in a low-income region of South Africa. This project aims to determine how cumulative, randomized, and quasi-randomized socioeconomic exposures in mid-to-later- life affect memory decline and dementia risk in later-life, by linking three unique population data sources in South Africa that cover a 22-year period from 2000 to 2021. These contributions will provide robust evidence on dementia etiology and will serve as sentinel findings for prevention strategies not only in sub-Saharan Africa, where there is currently little data outside of this study, but also for guiding interventions in dementia prevention programs. Dr. Kobayashi is co-leading this project with Dr. Molly Rosenberg at Indiana University.
Funding: National Institute on Aging, R01AG069128
Investigating cross-national variation in later-life cognitive health inequalities: a pilot study. By 2050, nearly 70% of global dementia cases are projected to occur in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). There is an urgent need to build up scientific evidence and resources to understand the etiology of cognitive aging outcomes in LMICs. A first step is to understand the measurement properties of various cognitive tests administered in these countries. We are assembling data from harmonized studies in three LMICs (South Africa, Mexico, India) and two high-income countries (England, the US) to evaluate the equivalence of cognitive health measures in the Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP), which has been implemented in each of these studies. We will provide practical guidance to researchers interested in cross-national comparisons using the HCAP. This research will also set the stage for in-depth comparisons that aim to explain trends and inequalities in dementia risk across high-, middle- and low-income countries with rapidly aging populations.
Funding: Pilot grant from the Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging (MiCDA), National Institute on Aging, P30AG012846
Education and cancer-related cognitive decline during aging. Education predicts better cognitive function in older adults generally and substantially reduces dementia risk, but is largely unexplored in the US general population of middle-aged and older cancer survivors. With innovative use of data that were collected prior to cancer diagnosis in order to rule out reverse causation and a follow- up period of up to 16 years after cancer diagnosis, this research will illuminate the risk modifying roles of education and other cognitive reserve markers in cancer-related cognitive decline at the general population level. We are using data from the nationally representative US Health and Retirement Study and linked Medicare data from 1998-2016. We use segmented linear mixed models to estimate memory change prior to and after a new cancer diagnosis and treatment across levels of cognitive reserve markers, with age-matched cancer-free adults as a comparison group. This research is a first step towards achieving our long-term goal of understanding and improving cognitive aging outcomes in the growing population of older cancer survivors.
Funding: National Cancer Institute, R03CA241841
The COVID-19 Coping Study: A longitudinal mixed-methods study of older adults’ mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. We are conducting an ongoing study of over 4,000 men and women aged 55 and over in the United States to evaluate month-by-month changes in mental health and well-being, particularly in relation to social and economic changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are tracking changes in employment, living circumstances, self-isolation and other necessary COVID-19 control measures, access to parks and green space, and coping strategies employed by older adults. Ultimately, we aim for results to inform equitable public health interventions and clinical practices to harness positive coping strategies, foster social support, and encourage meaningful daily activities among older populations during times of stress and trauma.
Learn more about the COVID-19 Coping Study on our study website!