Cognitive function in older adults according to current socioeconomic status


cognitive function, dementia, older adults, poverty index, socioeconomic standing


Cognitive function may be influenced by education, socioeconomic status, sex, and health status. Furthermore, aging interacts with these factors to influence cognition and dementia risk in late life. Factors that may increase or decrease successful cognitive aging are of critical importance, particularly if they are modifiable. The purpose of this study was to determine if economic status in late life is associated with cognition independent of socioeconomic status in early life. Cross-sectional demographic, socioeconomic, and cognitive function data were obtained in 2592 older adults (average age 71.6 years) from the Center for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and analyzed with linear regression modeling. Cognitive function, as measured with a test of processing speed, was significantly associated with poverty index scores after adjusting for educational attainment as an estimate of childhood socioeconomic status, ethnic background, age, health status, and sex (P < 0.001). Our findings suggest that current economic status is independently associated with cognitive function in adults over age 60 years.

Original Publication Citation

Zhang, Michael, Shawn D. Gale, Lance D. Erickson, Bruce L. Brown, Parker Woody, and Dawson W. Hedges. (2015). “Cognitive Function in Older Adults According to Current Socioeconomic Status: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition. 22(5): 534-43. DOI: 10.1080/13825585.2014.997663.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor