EXECUTIVE FUNCTION SUBCOMPONENTS AND THEIR RELATIONS TO EVERYDAY FUNCTIONING IN HEALTHY OLDER ADULTS
McAlister, Courtney Bordelon
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Everyday functioning and its executive functioning cognitive correlates were investigated in healthy older adults (HOAs) using multiple methods of functional status. We were especially interested in the contributions of both process pure and traditional measures of the executive function subcomponents of switching, inhibition, and updating. Seventy HOAs (45 young-old and 25 old-old) and 70 younger adults completed executive function and neuropsychological tests. In addition to self- and informant questionnaires of functional abilities, HOAs completed two performance-based measures. An aging effect was found on all executive function measures. Old-old older adults and their informants did not report more functional difficulties, but demonstrated more difficulties on performance-based measures relative to young-old participants. For the HOAs, after controlling for age and education, the traditional, but not process pure, executive function measures explained a significant amount of variance in the informant-report and both performance-based measures. Updating measures differentially predicted performance-based measures, while switching was a unique predictor of informant-report and problem-solving measures. These findings highlight the importance of taking a fractionated approach to the study of executive functioning and functional status, and suggest that switching and updating abilities may contribute to age-related decline of everyday functioning in HOAs.