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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 912680, 7 pages
Research Article

Successful Aging and Longevity in Older Old Women: The Role of Depression and Cognition

1Department of Psychology and Institute of Gerontology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202-3801, USA
2Veterans Health Administration, HSR&D/RR&D Center of Excellence, Tampa, FL 33637-1022, USA

Received 15 March 2011; Revised 2 May 2011; Accepted 17 May 2011

Academic Editor: B. A. Hagberg

Copyright © 2011 Daniel Paulson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Based in successful aging theory and terminal cognitive drop research, this paper investigates cerebrovascular burden (CVB), depressive symptoms, and cognitive decline as threats to longevity. A subsample of stroke-free women over the age of 80 was identified in the Health and Retirement Survey (years 2000–2008). Mortality at 2, 6, and 8 year intervals was predicted using CVB (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension), depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale), and cognitive decline (decline of 1 standard deviation or more on the 35-point Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status over 2 years). At most waves (2002, 2004, and 2006) mortality was predicted by CVB, depressive symptoms, and cognitive drop measured 2 years prior. CVB and depressive symptoms at the 2000 wave predicted mortality at 6 and 8 years. Older women with the greatest longevity had low CVB, robust cognitive functioning, and few depression symptoms, supporting successful aging theory and terminal cognitive drop.