Evidence suggests gender differences in age-related cognitive and functional decline. However, the differential impact that these diminished capabilities have on the lives of men and women later in life is not well understood. This study assesses for gender differences in the functional impact of self-reported cognitive decline in older adults (≥ age 65) and tests for gender differentials on five functional measures. Analysis utilizes the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)—a nationally representative sample of men and women—to explore self-reported cognitive issues, their impact on functional daily activities and the ability to obtain assistance with fundamental tasks. Chi square analyses and ordered logistic regression models examine sex differences in the prevalence, impact and resolution of reported functional limitations attributable to subjective cognitive decline. Among the 3,934 adults aged 65 or older, 11% reported cognitive decline. While a similar proportion of men and women reported decline, more women reported that these declines impacted their ability to complete household activities. However, the difference was not statistically significant. Analysis suggested that, while a significant proportion of older adults experience cognitive decline and report that this decline causes limitations in daily functionality, these experiences do not differ between men and women. Results suggest that cognitive decline and diminished capabilities are attributable to the natural aging process experienced by both men and women. Limitations due to cognitive decline should be considered during clinical management of older adults.
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