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Keywords

Computerized content analysis of speech, Very elderly geriatric cohort

 

Authors

  1. GOTTSCHALK, LOUIS A. MD, PhD
  2. KAWAS, CLAUDIA MD
  3. HOANG, ANN BS
  4. BECHTEL, ROBERT J. PhD

Abstract

The life expectancy of people living in the United States is increasing. Are very elderly individuals compromised mentally and physically in comparison to much younger persons? The purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of a computerized program applicable to the content analysis of 5-minute speech samples obtained from a group of individuals 90 years of age and older and to compare the results with those previously obtained in younger people with respect to their mental capacities in terms of a set of diverse neuropsychiatric dimensions. After obtaining informed consent from 26 elderly people, recorded verbal samples were elicited from each individual in response to purposely ambiguous instructions to talk for 5 minutes about any interesting or dramatic personal life experiences. The transcripts of their speech samples were digitized on a computer diskette and processed on the computer program. The computer program compared the scores obtained on each verbal sample with norms obtained on 15 previously validated content-analysis scales from individuals ranging in age from 5 to 80. The norms on these content-analysis scales are different for children (aged 5-10) and adults (aged 11-80). The computerized content-analysis scores obtained from this elderly cohort reveal plausible deviations from the norms for younger people.