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Spousal loss and cognitive function in later life: a 25-year follow-up in the AGES-Reykjavik study
Centre of Public Health Science, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.
Department of Medical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.
Geriatric Research Centre, National University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland; Department of Sports Science, School of Science and Engineering, Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland.
Centre of Public Health Science, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland; Icelandic Heart Association, Kopavogur, Iceland.
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2014 (English)In: American Journal of Epidemiology, ISSN 0002-9262, E-ISSN 1476-6256, Vol. 179, no 6, 674-83 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between loss of a life partner and the development of dementia and decline in cognitive function in later life. We used an Icelandic cohort of 4,370 participants in the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study who were living as married in 1978 (born in 1907-1935) and were either still married (unexposed cohort) or widowed (exposed cohort) at follow-up (in 2002-2006). We ascertained history of marital status and spouse's death by record linkage to the Registry of the Total Population, Statistics Iceland. The outcome measures were as follows: 1) dementia and mild cognitive impairment; and 2) memory, speed of processing, and executive function. During the observation period, 3,007 individuals remained married and 1,363 lost a spouse through death. We did not find any significant associations between loss of a spouse and our outcome variables, except that widowed women had poorer executive function (mean = -0.08) during the first 2 years after their husbands' deaths compared with still-married women (mean = 0.09). Our findings do not support the notion that the risk of dementia is increased following the loss of a spouse, yet women demonstrate a seemingly temporary decline in executive function following the death of a partner.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cary, USA: Oxford University Press, 2014. Vol. 179, no 6, 674-83 p.
Keyword [en]
Dementia, executive function, marital status, memory, psychological stress
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences Geriatrics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-41411DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwt321ISI: 000333246800004PubMedID: 24444551Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84895863335OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-41411DiVA: diva2:811708
Available from: 2015-05-12 Created: 2015-01-14 Last updated: 2015-06-18Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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