Increases in Blood Glucose in Older Adults: The Effects of Spousal Health

Chioun Lee, Princeton University
Germán Rodríguez, Princeton University
Dana A. Glei, Georgetown University
Maxine Weinstein, Georgetown University
Noreen Goldman, Princeton University

The death or illness of a spouse negatively affects a partner’s health, but little is known about how they affect glycemic (blood glucose) levels. This study investigates (1) the extent to which a spouse’s declining health is associated with changes in glycemic levels of older adults and (2) whether the association differs by sex. Data come from a nationally representative longitudinal sample of 597 Taiwanese aged 54 and older in 2000. We use changes in spousal health and widowhood status to predict changes in glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels over a six-year period. Two types of longitudinal models—lagged dependent variable and fixed effects—are estimated. In both models, a decline in spouses’ health is associated with increased HbA1c levels for women, but not for men. The death of a spouse who is in very good health is associated with increased HbA1c levels for both sexes in the fixed effects models.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Population Aging; Gender, Race and Ethnicity