Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Dementia Continues to Rise among Even the Oldest Old

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Dementia Continues to Rise among Even the Oldest Old

Article excerpt

VIENNA -- Dementia does not appear to spare the oldest old, contrary to findings of prior studies suggesting that the incidence tapers off after age 85.

Studies presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease suggest that dementia rates continue their linear increase even as people approach 100, with a doubling of incidence every 5 years.

"We believe there is now convincing evidence that, unfortunately, this disorder does not go down with age," Dr. Claudia H. Kawas said at the meeting, which was sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association. The findings are especially important, given that the population of those 90 years and older will increase 10-fold by the middle of this century, said Dr. Kawas, the Al and Trish Nichols Chair in Clinical Neuroscience at the University of California, Irvine. "As more individuals live to these extreme ages, dementia in the oldest old could become an epidemic with enormous public health impact."

Dr. Kawas and her colleagues presented data from The 90+ Study, a population-based study established in the early 1980s in a California retirement community. Out of the original 14,000 enrolled, her sub-study comprised 330 who were aged 90 years or older at the beginning of 2003, available for in-person interviews, and nondemented.

At baseline, the participants ranged in age from 90-108 years; the mean age was 94 years. Most (54%) were still living alone; 29% were living at home with a relative; and 17% were in a group facility or nursing home. Seventy percent were women.

Assessments occurred every 6 months through Jan. 1, 2008, and included a neurologic exam, neuropsychiatric testing, informative questionnaires, and medical records. …

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