Financial and health literacy discrepancies with cognition in older adults

Gali H. Weissberger, S. Duke Han, Lei Yu, Lisa L. Barnes, David A. Bennett, Patricia A. Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Greater financial and health literacy are associated with better cognition; however, research suggests that some individuals exhibit differences, or discrepancies, in these abilities in old age. We investigated discrepancies between literacy and cognition and factors associated with such discrepancies in older adults without dementia. Method: Participants (N = 714; Mage = 81.4; education: M = 15.4; 75.4% female; 5.2% non-White) from the Rush Memory and Aging Project completed cognitive assessments and a financial and health literacy measure that yielded a total literacy score. Participants were characterized into three groups: (a) total literacy scores that are more than one standard deviation (1 SD) above cognition (L > C), (b) total literacy scores falling more than 1 SD below cognition (L < C), and (c) total literacy within 1 SD of cognition (L = C). Logistic regressions were employed to investigate associations between demographic and psychosocial variables and discrepancy group status. Results: Of the 714 participants, 24% showed significant discrepancies. In fully adjusted models, in reference to the L = C group, male sex was associated with greater odds of being in the L > C group (odds ratio [OR] = 2.32, 95% CI [1.33, 4.03], p = .003) and lower odds of being in the L < C group (OR = 0.31, 95% CI [0.14, 0.66], p = .002), higher income was associated with lower odds of being in either discrepancy group (L < C OR = 0.87, 95% CI [0.79, 0.96], p = .004; L > C OR = 0.86, 95% CI [0.76, 0.96], p = .007), and higher trust was associated with lower odds of being in the L > C group (OR = 0.92, 95% CI [0.85, 0.99], p = .030). Conclusions: Findings support literacy and cognition as partially dissociable constructs and highlight important factors associated with discrepancies between literacy and cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-985
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (Grants R01AG017917 to DAB, R01AG033678 to PAB, and R01AG055430 to SDH). The authors gratefully thank the Rush Memory and Aging Project staff and participants and declare no competing financial interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Cognition
  • Discrepancy
  • Literacy
  • Older adults


Dive into the research topics of 'Financial and health literacy discrepancies with cognition in older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this