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The Impact of Age, Gender, and Marital Status on Age-Associated Cognitive Decline

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Document pages: 48 pages

Abstract: Age-associated cognitive decline is a normal, non-pathological and inevitable human occurrence. Therefore, it remains a research priority to assess the roleof certain protective factors, such as age, gender, and marital status, thatinfluence age-associated cognitive decline to intervene in the stemming of itsprogress and guide theory, policy, and practice. The study used a dissociativeparadigm, using two measures to assess both short-term and visuo-spatial memory, to clarify theunestablished results of whether cognitive ageing occurs in one subsystem (i.e., modular) or acrossthe whole brain (i.e., generalised).Participants (N = 126; 79 females and 46 males) from Sydney, New SouthWales were recruited and divided into three age groups: 18 - 27, 27 - 62, and62+. Participants completed an online questionnaire, with computer administered tasks, assessing visuo-spatial andshort-term memory. A Multivariate Analysis of Covariance (MANCOVA)revealed no significant covariate effects; covariates entered includedparticipants’ total scores from psychometrically established measuresaddressing engagement with social networks, depressive symptomology, personalwellbeing, and resilience. Consistent with previous findings, results from a MultivariateAnalysis of Variance (MANOVA) supported the notion that being married is aprotective factor in slowing down the progression of age-associated cognitivedecline (i.e., visuo-spatial memory), incomparison to being single or in a de facto relationship. Older adults who weremarried performed lower on visuo-spatial memory tasks than younger adults. Support for the generalised model of ageing was revealed. Future directions and implications ofthe study’s findings indicate the need to maximise protective interventions for those who are single or in a de factorelationship, and the brain as a whole system, to prevent unwarranted cognitivedecline.

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