Background: Memory complaints and depressive symptoms are frequently associated in older adults and both serve as potential indicators of future cognitive decline. However, the temporal ordering of the development of these two symptoms remains unclear. The goal of the current study was to examine concurrent and temporal relationships between memory complaints and depressive symptoms in older adults. Methods: Data were drawn from two longitudinal, nationally representative datasets and included cognitively intact older adults aged 65 and over. The datasets in the current study were from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Using an integrative analytic framework, we tested bidirectional temporal relationships between memory complaints (memory ratings and perceived memory decline) and depressive symptoms over 6 to 9 years of data in over 5000 older adults across these two samples. Results: Across both datasets, perceived memory decline predicted future depressive symptoms whereas memory ratings did not. Additionally, results showed that at times when depressive symptoms tended to be higher, memory complaints were also higher, but depressive symptoms did not predict future memory complaints. One finding that was inconsistent across datasets was memory ratings predicting depressive symptoms. After accounting for covariates, this relationship was only significant in one dataset. Conclusions: Cognitively intact older adults who report memory decline may be at risk for developing depressive symptoms in the future. Furthermore, our findings highlight the importance of using immediate replication of results across datasets to determine the generalizability of conclusions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geriatrics and Gerontology