Cognitive and linguistic processes among oldest old persons
Cognitive and linguistic abilities are synergistic, working together to support functioning and quality of life throughout the lifespan, including very old age. Unfortunately, understanding of cognitive development and change amongst the oldest old is lacking due in part to assessment challenges (e.g., sensory impairment and fatigue, measure equivalence) and study paucity. These limitations hamper attempts to distinguish typical age-related decline from non-normative change and identify factors related to impairment and resilience. For individuals in very late life current psychosocial resources and events, as well as conditions of childhood and early life, impact functioning. These psychosocial influences play a role in adaptation and subsequent developmental outcomes. In this chapter, we focus on three later-life themes as they relate to cognitive and linguistic processes including heterogeneity in advanced age and diversity of outcomes, methodological challenges, and role of psychosocial resources and context.