Perceived Stress and Cognitive Decline in Chinese-American Older Adults

Yiwei Chen, Ying Liang, Wei Zhang, Jennifer C. Crawford, Katie L. Sakel, Xin Qi Dong

Publication Date: 08/12/2019

OBJECTIVES: To examine whether higher levels of perceived stress are associated with lower levels of cognitive function and faster cognitive decline in older Chinese-American adults.

DESIGN: Longitudinal.

SETTING: Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (PINE). PARTICIPANTS: PINE is the largest population-based epidemiological study of Chinese Americans aged 60 and older in the greater Chicago area. Wave 1 data were collected from 3,159 older adults during 2011 to 2013. Wave 2 data were collected from 2,713 older adults during 2013 to 2015.

MEASUREMENTS: In addition to sociodemographic and health-related variables, participants completed the Chinese Perceived Stress Scale and multiple cognitive tasks. Episodic memory was assessed using the East Boston Memory Tests, perceptual speed was assessed using the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, and working memory was assessed using the Digit Span Backwards.

RESULTS: Controlling for sociodemographic and health-related variables, mixed-effects regression models showed that higher levels of perceived stress were associated with poorer episodic memory, perceptual speed, and working memory in older Chinese-American adults but not with faster cognitive decline over an average 2-year interval.

CONCLUSION: The present study is the first population-based, longitudinal study to examine the relationships between perceived stress and cognitive decline in older Chinese-American adults. It suggests the importance of researchers, social workers, and policy makers developing programs to reduce stress and improve cognitive function in older Chinese-American adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:S519–S524, 2019.