Neighborhood SES and Cognitive Function Among Hispanic/Latinx Residents: Why Where You Live Matters


      Few studies have examined the impacts of neighborhood SES and individual ethnicity and SES characteristics on cognitive function in aging populations. Hispanics/Latinx are more likely to have cognitive impairment and be community dwellers than non-Hispanic Whites. Neighborhood factors can have greater impacts on the relationship between Hispanics/Latinx and cognitive function. This study examines these relationships in Nueces County, Texas.


      A mixed-effects regression analysis of data from 1,140 older adults participating in the Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi - Cognitive project from 2018 to 2020 was completed. Cognitive function was measured with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a cognitive screening measure. Participant addresses were geocoded to obtain census tracts, which were proxies for neighborhoods. Neighborhood SES was measured by household median income, percentage of Hispanic/Latinx residents, and percentage of residents aged ≥65 years with Medicaid, all from the American Community Survey. Interactions were used to examine the impact of neighborhood SES on ethnicity and cognitive function.


      The sample consisted of 62.5% Hispanic/Latinx and 37.5% non-Hispanic White participants. Results from the F-statistics, test of effects, indicate that being older (F4,1138=45.04; p<0.001), being a man (F1,1130=4.35; p<0.050), having low education (F3,1121=40.83; p<0.001), completing the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test in Spanish (F1,1140=15.35; p<0.001), and being Hispanic/Latinx (F1,962=20.84; p<0.001) were all associated with lower Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores. Neighborhood income was positively associated (F1,69.6=6.95; p<0.050) with Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores. Neighborhood income (β=0.32; p<0.050) and percentage with Medicaid (β=0.06; p<0.050) independently moderated the associations between ethnicity and Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores.


      Findings suggest that neighborhood SES could further impact cognitive function independent of individual characteristics. This could be attributed to minimal resources in communities with lower SES, impacting policies and programs for older individuals, particularly those with worse cognitive function.
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