Older adults in rural South Africa who care for their grandchildren may also be safeguarding their cognitive function

Two older women walk on a dirt road in rural South Africa

Three researchers (Harvard Pop Center Research Scientist Elyse Jennings, Research Associate Director Meagan Farrell, and former Bell Fellow Lindsay Kobayashi) affiliated with one of the flagship projects at the Harvard Pop Center — Health and Aging in Africa: A Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH Community in South Africa (HAALSI) — have published their findings in the Journal of Aging and Health.

Does cognitive function in older population living in South Africa differ based on HIV status?

Older men and women in South Africa part of the HAALSI study

A team of researchers affiliated with the HAALSI study have published their findings in Nature indicating that cognitive function scores varied depending on whether participants were being assessed using conventional measurement instruments versus one designed for low-literacy settings.

A hopeful discovery about later-life cognitive function in those exposed to early-life adversity in rural South Africa

Older woman in South Africa

The HAALSI team of researchers is one of the first to look at the impacts of early-life adversity (such as parental unemployment, discord and substance abuse, and physical abuse) on later-life cognitive function in rural South Africa. Their findings published in Psychology and Aging suggest that cognitive function is, for the most part, resilient against early-life adversity.

Is social capital valuable in protecting cognitive function in lower-resource settings such as rural South Africa?

Older man in South Africa sitting in a field

While theories about the connection between strong social supports and better cognitive health among an aging population are well established in higher resource settings (high income, high education levels), less is known about whether this same pattern exists in lower resource settings. Researchers affiliated with Health and Aging in Africa: a Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH community in South Africa (HAALSI) have published findings that suggest that a similar pattern…

Riding the bus to better cognitive function

Findings from a study authored by Harvard Pop Center Bell Fellow Emilie Courtin, faculty member Mauricio Avendano, and colleagues reveal that making public transportation more accessible to older adults (by way of a free bus pass) did more than just boost ridership; it also increased their cognitive functioning, perhaps by facilitating a more socially and physically active lifestyle.

New HAALSI study findings: Education negates height disparity in cognitive function for older adults living in South Africa

South African women

A study published by HAALSI researchers, including recent Harvard Bell Fellow Lindsay Kobayashi, Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman, and faculty members SV Subramanian (Subu), Kathleen Kahn, and Stephen Tollman, finds that while short stature may be a risk factor for cognitive function among older adults living in South Africa, education was found to negate the relationship between height disparity and cognitive function.

What is driving later-life cognitive function of a rural South African population that lived under Apartheid?

Harvard Bell Fellow Lindsay Kobayashi, PhD, is lead author on a paper published in Social Science & Medicine that is one of the few studies that takes a closer look at the life-course drivers (e.g., self-reported childhood health and father’s occupation) of cognitive aging in South Africa. Other authors include researchers associated with the Harvard Pop Center and the HAALSI study. Photo: United Nations on Flickr

Economic downturns negatively impact future cognitive functioning of older U.S. workers

A study published in The Journals of Gerontology Series B by recent Harvard Bell Fellow Philipp Hessel, Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman, and faculty member Mauricio Avendano has found exposure to economic downturns among U.S. workers approaching retirement age to be associated with decreased cognitive functioning later in life. Longer periods of exposure to downturns were found to be associated with lower levels of functioning.