We propose a two-year exploratory/developmental project to examine predictors of cognitive outcomes in the first population-based, island-wide study of community-dwelling Puerto Ricans age 60 and older. Households across the main island of Puerto Rico were visited in order to identify the target sample of 4,291 participants for the Puerto Rican Elderly: Health Conditions (PREHCO) study. This proposal takes advantage of rich life course data to investigate theory- driven hypotheses about factors that may influence cognitive aging. The overarching goals are to (a) analyze the existing life course and cognitive data, (b) enrich the data with more refined assessment of educational and occupation-based factors, and (c) use this project as a springboard for a longitudinal follow-up of the PREHCO sample for the purpose of collecting additional cognitive data as well as new genetic and biomarker data relevant to examining cognitive aging. In this exploratory study, we propose to expand life course measures available in PREHCO by gathering novel data on quality of education in early-life, and on occupational complexity and job strain in adulthood, in order to obtain a comprehensive record of environmental factors relevant to cognitive function in older adulthood. This project will also allow us to provide the first population-based normative data for cognitive performance among older adults in Puerto Rico, and to implement regression-based cutoffs for determining cognitive impairment with a Spanish language measure. The overall hypothesis is that potentially modifiable factors related to socioeconomic status (SES), environmental complexity, and stress across the life course will be predictors of cognitive outcomes in later life. This initial developmental project will strengthen a subsequent research proposal to follow-up the PREHCO sample (currently age 70+).

Public Health Relevance

This will be the first study to examine risk factors for cognitive decline and cognitive impairment in a population-based sample of older adults from the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This exploratory/developmental project will extend existing knowledge of how factors across the life course may influence cognitive outcomes in later life and lay the groundwork for future data collection in this population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Social Sciences and Population Studies B Study Section (SSPB)
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Wagster, Molly V
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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