Context: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) negatively impact health outcomes later in life, in a dose–dependent relationship; however, little is known about the impact of the individual ACE categories and subjective cognitive decline (SCD) later in life.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the associations among the eight ACEs and SCD.
Methods: We analyzed data from two cycles of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS; 2019–2020). We assessed the accumulation of ACEs and their association with SCD, and among individuals reporting only one ACE, we utilized logistic regression to compare the likelihood of reporting SCD and symptomology among the eight categories of adversity.
Results: Among included respondents, 10.14% reported experiencing SCD. More ACEs were reported among those with SCD (mean, 2.61; SD, 2.56) compared to those without SCD (mean, 1.44; SD, 1.91). Those with higher ACE scores were significantly less likely to have spoken with a healthcare provider about their cognitive decline. Individuals reporting one ACE of either family mental illness, family substance abuse, family incarceration, emotional abuse, or physical abuse had significantly greater odds of reporting memory loss compared to individuals with no ACEs.
Conclusions: Having multiple ACEs was significantly associated with higher odds of SCD and associated limitation of social activity and was inversely associated with getting help when it is needed. Further, many ACE categories were associated with SCD – a novel addition to the literature and the methodology utilized herein. Interventions focused on improving cognitive health and preventing cognitive decline should consider the potential role of ACEs among affected populations.