Longitudinal Changes in Global and Domain Specific Cognitive Function in the Very old: Findings from the Newcastle 85+ Study

Blossom Stephan, GM Terrera, Antoneta Granic, Joanna Collerton, Karen Davies, Brian Saxby, Keith Wesnes, Thomas B. Kirkwood, Carol Jagger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Ageing is associated with changes in cognition in some, but not all domains. In young–old adults, defined as persons aged 65–84 years, baseline cognitive function has been shown to impact on cognitive trajectories. Whether similar patterns occur in the very-old, defined as persons aged 85 years and over, is not known.
Longitudinal changes (5 years' follow-up) in global and domain specific cognitive function including memory, attention and speed were investigated in participants from the Newcastle 85+ Study (n = 845). At baseline, participants were grouped using Mini-Mental State Examination cut-off scores and dementia status into the following: not impaired, mildly impaired or severely impaired/dementia groups.
Only a limited number of cognitive measures showed significant decline in performance over time. Where observed, change generally occurred only in the severely impaired group. In the severely impaired group, small differences in baseline age were associated with poorer performance over time on most measures. Education was not protective against cognitive decline in any group.
There are individuals who maintain a high level of cognitive function or only show mild impairments even into their ninth decade of life. This group of successful cognitive agers may provide insight for identifying predictors of cognitive integrity in later life. In individuals with severe impairment, cognitive performance shows significant decline over time, especially in measures of attention and speed. Further work to identify those individuals at highest risk of cognitive decline is necessary to implement early support and intervention strategies in this rapidly expanding age group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Early online date22 Jun 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jun 2017


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