Invited commentary: Adult child US migration status and cognitive decline among older parents who remain in Mexico - a new perspective on loneliness and social isolation

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There is a growing body of research on the link between social isolation, loneliness and health outcomes in later life, including cognitive decline and dementia. In the current issue of the Journal, Torres et al (Am J Epidemiol) have studied the association between adult child migration status and cognitive performance in parents staying behind in Mexico, using longitudinal data from the Mexican Health and Aging Study. This is an excellent example of the role that emotional and social factors may play in the development of cognitive impairment among older adults. In their study, having an adult child in the United States was associated with a steeper decline in verbal memory scores over time, but only among women. In the light of the increasing immigration worldwide, this work is highly relevant, as it touches upon a less recognized socioemotional risk factor for cognitive decline: family-member migration status. Further research on this topic should be conducted in other countries and should include the assessment of social and emotional needs of those staying behind when a family member migrates. This will increase our understanding of how social isolation and loneliness relate to cognitive decline and may contribute to new directions for interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2020

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