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ERIC Number: EJ1049994
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Oct
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Age and Time-to-Death Trajectories of Change in Indicators of Cognitive, Sensory, Physical, Health, Social, and Self-Related Functions
Gerstorf, Denis; Ram, Nilam; Lindenberger, Ulman; Smith, Jacqui
Developmental Psychology, v49 n10 p1805-1821 Oct 2013
Mortality-related processes are known to modulate late-life change in cognitive abilities, but it is an open question whether and how precipitous declines with impending death generalize to other domains of functioning. We investigated this notion by using 13-year longitudinal data from now-deceased participants in the Berlin Aging Study (N = 439; 70-103 years at first occasion; M = 87 years). Using time metrics of chronological age and time-to-death, we compared changes in key indicators of cognitive, sensory, physical, health, social, and self-related domains. Across variables and domains, mortality models revealed steeper average rates of change than age models. However, some domain indicators were more prone to mortality-related change than others. Examining between-person differences, we found that sociodemographic characteristics (surviving to an older age at death, being a woman, lower socioeconomic status) and proxies of pathologies (comorbidities, disability, and suspected dementia) related to lower levels of late-life functioning. In contrast, little evidence was found for correlates of differential change. Our results illustrate both the pervasive nature of progressive processes leading toward death and their domain specificity. Inquiries with more closely spaced multidomain measurements are needed to identify invariant and variable aspects of the end-of-life "cascade."
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institute on Aging (DHHS/NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany (Berlin)
Grant or Contract Numbers: RC1-AG035645; NIA R21-AG032379; NIA R21-AG033109