Concurrent and enduring associations between married partners' shared beliefs and markers of aging
Mejía, Shannon T., Hannah L. Giasson, Jacqui Smith, and Richard D. Gonzalez. Forthcoming. "Concurrent and enduring associations between married partners' shared beliefs and markers of aging." Psychology and Aging.
Beliefs about aging are grounded in social experience. This study considered the extent to which married older adults' shared beliefs about aging and markers of aging maintain a concurrent and enduring association with their partners' beliefs about and markers of aging. Data from the 2010/2012 and 2014/2016 waves of the Health and Retirement Study provided measures of husbands' and wives' (3,779 couples) positive and negative beliefs about aging and internal (Cystatin C) and external (grip strength) markers of aging at 2 time points. Latent dyadic models parsed beliefs and markers into partners' individual and shared variances, which were connected both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Longitudinal analysis showed that the cross-sectional associations between shared beliefs and markers of aging were stable over 4 years. Partners' shared beliefs and markers of aging were found to have enduring associations with each other over time. The enduring association between grip strength and future negative beliefs remained significant after accounting for partner selection and similarity in health. Model comparisons across marriage duration and emotional closeness showed partners' beliefs to be more similar in marriages that were either long established or emotionally close. In all groups, shared beliefs and markers of aging were associated with each other over time. The association between positive beliefs and future grip strength was stronger in long-established than in recent marriages. In summary, this study provides evidence that, within older couples, beliefs about aging are shaped in part through experiences of aging together.
Aging & Retirement