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Cognitive Functions And Cultural Differences Of Older Adults

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Maintaining cognitive skills is important in life when it comes to aging. Cognitive aging, a decrease in cognitive processes as you age is common in many older adults and is also a predictor of mortality (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). The research conducted by Rodlescia S. Sneed and Richard Schulz in “Grandparent Caregiving, Race, and Cognitive Functioning in a Population-Based Sample of Older Adults”, uses a populational- based and longitudinal study to assess the associations between grandparent’s caregiving and cognitive functioning (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). Studies have shown that proving care is beneficial for grandparents (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). The study’s objective was to measure the relationship between non-custodial grandparent caregiving and cognitive using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) (Sneed & Schulz, 2017).


Sample participants were of white and African American descent. The data collected was only from non-custodial grandparents greater than 65 years of age, who did not live with their grandchildren over 3 waves. The study was limited to 65 years or older because the cognitive performance measures were not available for younger participants (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). This study included the caregiving status in which their cognitive assessments were assessed throughout 2006, 2008, and 2010. The study’s analyses were controlled for a plethora of things such as demographics, symptoms, bassline health, and baseline cognition (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). Two types of analysis were performed, the first was an evaluation to see if there was a correlation between grandparent caregiving and cognitive scores at a four year follow up, their scores were adjusted as the study perceives (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). In this analysis, according to Sneed & Schulz 2017, the number of waves is both associated with higher delayed recall scores at follow-up the second type of analysis that was conducted was the relationship between the total hours of grandparent caregiving and cognitive curves across 3 waves. In this analysis, Sneed and Schulz (2017), observed that grandparent caregiving immediately changes after a certain number of hours.

Due to some limitations of this study, Sneed and Schulz (2017), did utilize cross-section; is because other data could provide useful information. This study was not manipulated but was based on a sample of older adults. A few studies have shown that grandparenting increases cognitive functioning. It has been said that grandparenting at least once a week increased verbal fluency than on- caregiving grandparent (Sneed & Schulz, 2017).

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The result supports the researchers’ hypothesis because grandparenting at least once or twice a week does improve cognition over the four-year follow-up. They were interested in whether grandparenting was associated with cognition over a 4-year follow-up (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). There were 3029 participants in the study, of those 3029 participants, 21% were caregivers at least once in the study, 330 provided care only in one wave, 180 provided care for two or more studies, and 146 in all three studies (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). The biggest findings of this study are that race acts as a moderator and is associated with both grandparenting and immediate recall, as a result, in one of the four cognitive tests, white Americans significantly benefitted on the effects of immediate recall, hence, African Americans was not (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). The reason for this might be culturally associated with these findings. In African American homes the grandparents play an important role traditionally, they sometimes take on the role of “mom” when mom cannot be found. Growing up with my grandparents was hard, my mother was not around, and my grandmother had to raise my siblings along with her children so I know how that can play a role. I was not surprised by the study’s findings. On the contrary, in white homes, many children are raised by “Mom” and “Dad”, allowing the grandparents to have a more fun friendship with their grandchildren. This might be why white Americans had a higher score. The study also talked about the post hoc analysis which analyses the differences in physical health and depressive symptom found no difference between both white and African Americans, but studies have shown that more African Americans were showing depressive signs than white Americans (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). Overall this study was remarkable, the results did not surprise me, but I can say that it helps to support my research question, “Does grandparenting affect cognition?’ it is important to note that cognitive functioning does improve as you age. Grandparenting is a beautiful thing and everyone should get the chance to learn from them.


Timeliness in the study receives a 5 because the article is relevantly new but published online before the final edited in 2017. In the process of looking for articles, many of them were dated within the last 10 years or so. This article has been edited and the newest published is in 2019. On a Revenant rating, I would give it a 4 because the study answered both parts of my question but only included non-custodial grandparents of the United States and no other countries (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). The authors of the article are Rodicesia Sneed and Richard Schulz. Dr. Sneed, a highly recommended assistant principle at Michigan state university, is known for her excellent work. She is a Social and Health psychiatrist psychologist who is interested in a plethora of things such as stress, social environment, and physical health (Michigan state university, division of public health, n.d.). Dr. Schulz is recognized nationally in research, his research is mainly on adult development and aging (university of Pittsburg, n.d.). Authority receives a 5 for both of their credentials, I say this because they are both powerhouses, their works are there to prove it! This study receives a 5 on accuracy because it was well written and holds many citations and data. The purpose of this article will also receive a 5 because the data has shown that older adult’s cognitive function does improve through grandparenting. In the study, Dr. Sneed’s and Dr. Schulz’s main purpose was to see if grandparents as caregivers would improve cognitive functions throw-out a four-year follow up (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). Anyone who looks at this study would see how beneficial grandparenting is resulting in more grandparents spending time with their grandchildren.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The strength of this article is the longitudinal nature of the study. It develops a “population-based” sample to determine the relationship between grandparent caregiving and cognition (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). This study contains both white and African Americans, non-custodial grandparents, to answer the second part om my research question. It showed racial differences that grand parting increased cognition in whites but balanced out in African Americans. (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). Additionally, this study provides a plethora of data on non- residential grandparent, this group is often left neglected (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). Therefore, it is important for grandparents, whether near or far, to have time to send with their grandchildren because it increases their cognitive functions. On the other hand, this article had some limitations. The data might be falsely reflected, meaning that their findings there might be unmeasured puzzling health-related variable (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). Perhaps the study was in four years, and people die which means that their results are no longer valid. A weakness of this study is that it only contains African American and whites, I believe that the results of this study could have more of an effect if Hispanics and other cultures around the world were involved. Also, my grandfather has been a caregiver for almost half his life, his health has increased, and he can retain information at the age of 80. Not only non-caregivers will have a positive outcome, but caregivers’ help as well. In all, this was not a bad article, the authors made it easy to read and understand. I would recommend someone to read this article to gain knowledge of the cognitive function and cultural differences within older adults.


The research presented by dr. Sneed and dr. Schulz is deemed to be credible and significant. This study has shown significant improvements in cognitive function in healthy older adults, which answers my research question. I believe this research is of high quality and would be used in the future. Although the article has its weaknesses, the strengths overpower the weaknesses because their findings show that cognitive decline is an issue, if we are aware of this, we can do things to help older adults improve their cognitive functions. Also, the study’s findings are consistent with other studies associated with grandparent caregiving and cognition though cross-sectional samples (Sneed & Schulz, 2017). I wish that the study incorporated mixed cultures, or foreign countries other than whites and African Americans. My overall take on this article is that it is vital for an older adult to participate in activities, whether it is caregiving, hanging with friends, or going back to school. This study has supported the overall question of whether other adults would increase in cognitive functions after caring for their grandchildren. This study also showed that active older adults both benefit the slow rate of cognitive aging and improve cognitive function while aging (Sneed & Schulz, 2017).


  1. (2019). Rodlescia S.Sneed, PhD, MPH.
  2. Richard Schulz, PhD Center Director | Health Policy Institute | University of Pittsburgh. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2019, from
  3. Sneed, R. S., & Schulz, R. (2017). Grandparent Caregiving, Race, and Cognitive Functioning in a Population-Based Sample of Older Adults. Journal of aging and health, 898264317733362-898264317733362.

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