Cognitive Functioning Is Related to Physical Functioning in a Longitudinal Study of Women at MidlifeFord K.a · Sowers M.a · Seeman T.E.b · Greendale G.A.b · Sternfeld B.c · Everson-Rose S.A.d
aDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., bDivision of Geriatrics, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif., cDivision of Research, Kaiser, Oakland, Calif., and dDepartment of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., USA
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Background: Studies have reported declines with age in cognitive or physical functioning, but rarely identify whether these are parallel or linked events in the same study. Furthermore, most research in this area has focused on persons in late life rather than midlife. Objective: The objective of the study was to determine (1) if cognitive functioning was related to physical functioning and whether this relationship persisted after adjustment for age, menopause status, metabolic status, depression and socioeconomic resources, and (2) if changes in physical functioning were associated with changes in cognitive functioning over a 4-year follow-up period. Methods: Data were from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), a multi-site, longitudinal study of women aged 46–56 years at follow-up examination 4. Three follow-up examinations (study years 04, 06 and 08) included measures of physical functioning perception (MOS SF-36) and cognitive functioning [Symbol Digit Modality Test (SDMT), Digit Span Backward Test (DSBT), and East Boston Memory Test (EBMT)] (n = 2,405). Results: Women with lower cognitive functioning scores also had lower perceived physical functioning scores. While adjustment for covariates attenuated the association between perceived physical functioning and both the SDMT and EBMT cognitive measures, these associations remained statistically significant. Additionally, the 4-year change in perceived physical functioning was significantly associated with the 4-year change in the EBMT. Conclusions: At midlife, there were associated declines in cognitive and perceived physical functioning scores, commencing at midlife in women.
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