Molly Maxfield is an associate professor of psychology and licensed psychologist. Her research has examined differences in young and older adults’ mechanisms for coping with increased awareness of mortality. Her findings suggest that differences in responses to death-related stimuli occur very early in basic processing (as measured by event-related potentials) and that high levels of executive functioning predict more positive responses to a death reminder among older, but not younger adults. Many recent projects are inspired by older adult participants who report that they no longer fear death but experience significant fear about losing their memories.
Supported by the National Institute on Aging, her current studies examine dementia-related anxiety (excessive concern about dementia diagnosis, independent of age or cognitive status) and its impact on daily life. Initial results suggest that exposure to common and negative age-related stereotypes (e.g., forgetful, confused) contribute to older adults’ dementia-related anxiety.
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