Cognitive Impairment Common in Oldest Old Women

Prevalence is 41 percent in those aged 85 and older

TUESDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial number of oldest old women, an increasing demographic, have some degree of cognitive impairment, according to research published in the May issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Kristine Yaffe, M.D., of the University of California at San Francisco, and colleagues assigned a battery of neuropsychological tests to 1,299 women aged 85 or older to assess the prevalence of cognitive impairment in this age group (the oldest old).

The researchers observed dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in 231 (17.8 percent) and 301 (23.2 percent) women, respectively, which equaled a combined cognitive impairment prevalence of 41 percent. The most common clinical features were consistent with Alzheimer's disease and mixed dementia, and cognitive impairment was more common in women aged 90 or older and in those with less education, a history of stroke, and prevalent depression.

"In this large sample of oldest old women, 41.0 percent had clinically adjudicated cognitive impairment. Subtypes of dementia and MCI were similar to those in younger populations. Women in the fastest growing demographic, the oldest old, should be screened for cognitive disorders, especially high-risk groups," the authors write.

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