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The current study examined whether self-reported memory problems among cognitively intact older adults changed concurrently with, preceded, or followed depressive symptoms over time.
Data were collected annually via in-person comprehensive medical and neuropsychological examinations as part of the Einstein Aging Study.
Community-dwelling older adults in an urban, multi-ethnic area of New York City were interviewed.
The current study included a total of 1,162 older adults (Mage = 77.65, SD = 5.03, 63.39% female; 74.12% White). Data were utilized from up to 11 annual waves per participant.
Multilevel modeling tested concurrent and lagged associations between three types of memory self-report (frequency of memory problems, perceived one-year decline, and perceived ten-year decline) and depressive symptoms.
Results showed that self-reported frequency of memory problems covaried with depressive symptoms only in participants who were older at baseline. Changes in perceived one-year and ten-year memory decline were related to changes in depressive symptoms across all ages. Depressive symptoms increased the likelihood of perceived ten-year memory decline the next year; however, perceived ten-year memory decline did not predict future depressive symptoms. Additionally, no significant temporal relationship was observed between depressive symptoms and self-reported frequency of memory problems or perceived one-year memory decline.
Our findings highlight the importance of testing the unique associations of different types of self-reported memory problems with depressive symptoms.