Mortgage delinquency, foreclosure, and cognition in later life

December 13, 2021

Marshall, G., Canham, S.L., Kahana, E., & Larson, E. (2021). Mortgage delinquency, foreclosure, and cognition in later life. Housing and Society. 49(2), 113-127. doi:10.1080/08882746.2021.2006548

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The rapid growth in housing insecurity among older adults is a major public health concern. While there is evidence that stress contributes to poor health, the relationship between housing-related financial stressors and cognitive functioning is relatively unknown. We investigated the association between the personal experiences of mortgage delinquency and foreclosure and cognition and its sub-components of episodic memory and mental status among Americans age 65 years and older. Using the data from two concatenated waves (2010, 2012) of the Health and Retirement Study, we analyzed data for respondents (N = 6,612) across both waves using generalized linear regressions. Our findings suggest that there is a negative association between mortgage delinquency/foreclosure and cognitive scores. Further, we found a negative association between mortgage delinquency and mental status among women, specifically. These results highlight the importance of financial well-being vis-à-vis housing stability and its significance to mental well-being and cognition of adults in later life. Future research is needed to identify macro-level stressors such as mortgage delinquency and/or foreclosure. Such information would improve strategies for prevention and intervention particularly for older adults living on fixed incomes who have little opportunity to earn pre-retirement levels of income.