A recent study published in Journal of Aging Research uncovered additional support for the “successful aging” theory as well as new findings on the impact of cerebrovascular burden, depression, and cognitive decline on longevity in older women. Explicitly, this research sought to better understand the risk factors related to mortality in later life, and inform efforts that extend life expectancy in older women.
In particular, the researchers focused on two behavioral domains that are especially relevant in clinical settings—cognitive decline and depressive symptoms. The authors examined a demographically diverse longitudinal dataset collected at two-year intervals from 2000 through 2008 from female participants 80 and better.
From their analysis, they found that—among women 80 and better— cerebrovascular burden, depression, and rapid decline in cognitive abilities were significantly associated with mortality over the subsequent 24 months. In sum, these findings suggest that the risk of death significantly increases with the presence of these types of conditions in older women.
Overall, these findings offer additional support of past research, showing that biological and psychological factors both predict mortality in older adults. Future research in this area will further understanding of the cerebrovascular, psychological, and cognitive markers of decline and death in older adults.
Paulson, D.; Bowen, M. E.; and Lichtenberg, P. A. (2011). “Successful aging and longevity in older old women: The role of depression and cognition.” Journal of Aging Research. v. 2011