Men (not women) found to receive more social support after losing spouse and when suffering from physical health issue in rural South Africa

Older man in South Africa sitting in a field

A study authored by Harvard Pop Center Research Scientist Elyse Jennings, PhD, and her colleagues Margaret Ralston and Enid Schatz, reveals the levels of social support experienced by older adults in rural South Africa after losing a spouse, and/or experiencing a physical limitation or chronic health issue.

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.

Latest study on aging in South Africa presents some of the first incidence rates of aging-related cognitive impairment in this population

An older South African man and a healthcare worker do an intake sitting outside in rural South Africa

HAALSI researchers — including former Harvard Bell Fellow Lindsay Kobayashi, and Harvard Pop Center Research Associate Meagan Farrell, and Director Lisa Berkman — have published a study that finds similar patterning between social disparities (such as differences in formal education, literacy and marital status) and cognitive impairment rates in rural South Africa as observed in many high-income countries.

Does alcohol consumption play a role in the spread of HIV among older adults in South Africa?

Multiple glasses of red wine

A study by HAALSI researchers finds that increased and more frequent alcohol consumption among older adults in South Africa is linked with higher levels of sexual risk taking, patterns of behavior that could contribute to the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Is depression a barrier to receiving social support among aging adults in rural South Africa?

Head shot of Elyse Jennings

A study by researchers affiliated with the population-based study Health and Aging in Africa: A Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH Community in South Africa (HAALSI), including Harvard Pop Center Research Scientist Elyse Jennings, PhD, finds that those study participants reporting symptoms of depression were less likely to receive some types of social support, and there were differences according to gender and marital status.

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.

Assessing the scale for assessing depression in rural South Africa

Two South African women wearing colorful clothes

Researchers from the Harvard Pop Center in Cambridge, MA and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa who are affiliated with the HAALSI study have published a paper in the Journal of Affective Disorders that finds that the reliability of the commonly used scale to assess depression (Center for Epidemiologic Depression Scale (CES-D)) differed by gender. Authors of the study include: Leslie B. Adams, Meagan Farrell, Sumaya Mall,…

Aiming to ward off ‘spiral of decline’ in aging rural South African population

Older man sitting outside in rural South Africa

Researchers analyzed data collected as part of the HAALSI study to learn more about the self-reported physical activity (PA) levels of a population over 40 years old. Factors such as being male, over the age of 80, in a higher wealth category, obesity, and poorer functional capacity correlated with lower levels of physical activity. The paper is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. “These findings…

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…