Executive function as a mediator between depression and everyday functioning in community -dwelling older adults
The population of older adults in the United States is growing at a rapid rate, and as many as 27% report symptoms of depression. Both advanced age and depression pose risks for impairment of everyday activities. Therefore, one area of study that may be beneficial involves the relationship between higher order cognition (i.e., executive function), mood, and functional independence in the elderly. Because of the detrimental effects of executive dysfunction and depression on everyday functioning in older adults, the current study presents a cohesive model for examining the relationships among these factors in a nonclinical population of 177 community-dwelling older adults. Structural equation modeling provided good support for a mediational model, with executive function acting as a significant mediator in the relationship between depression and other predictor variables (i.e., age and education) and everyday functioning, which was assessed with two laboratory-based, observed measures of instrumental activities of daily living. Research and clinical implications, including areas for future research, are discussed.