Exploring Rumination in Older Adults With and Without Signs of Dementia
Stran, Brian M.
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Little previous research has examined the connection between aging and rumination. Two seemly opposing theories were presented as possible predictors and explanations for frequency of rumination, Socioemotional Selectivity Theory (Carstensen, 1999) and Inhibitory Deficit Framework (Hasher & Zacks, 1988). The current study connects these theoretical frameworks to examine rumination patterns in young adults compared to older adults with and without significant cognitive impairment. Hypotheses: It was predicted that cognitively healthy older adults would ruminate significantly less than young adults. Additionally, it was predicted that there would be a significant difference in rumination scores between cognitively healthy and impaired older adults. Lastly, it was predicted that rumination would significantly predict frequency of reported cognitive failures. Results: The results found that significantly predicted 13% of variance in RRS scores between cognitively healthy older and young adults. Cognitive ability predicted 28% of the variance in RRS scores of older adults with and without cognitive impairment. Lastly, cognitive failure scores significantly predicted 8% of the variance in RRS scores. Discussion: The results support all hypotheses and demonstrate that cognitively healthy older adults ruminate significantly less than young adults, supporting the Socioemotional Selectivity Theory (Carstensen, 1999). Yet, dementia-like cognitive impairment in some way impairs older adults ability to inhibit intrusive ruminative thoughts, supporting Inhibitory Deficit Framework (Hasher & Zacks, 1988).