Analysis Indicates Late-Life Depression Increases Risk of Future Cognitive Impairment
Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging; February 2011

 

Given the unprecedented projected expansion in the number of elderly adults in the USA and abroad, identifying potentially treatable contributors to late-life cognitive impairment is essential. Several scientific studies have found an association between depressive disorder later in life and a subsequent diagnosis of moderate cognitive impairment and dementia, but whether or not depressive disorder is a risk component for cognitive decrease, instead of a consequence of it, has remained a vital question. A rigorous new study that followed 6376 older women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study for more than five years indicates that late-life depressive disorder can be a risk component for future cognitive impairment, a finding that has important ramifications for elderly adults, especially those residing in long-term care.

The new study, led by Joseph S. Goveas, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin, was printed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) in January (http: //bit. ly/WHIMS-Goveas).The study, which is the biggest one to date to look at possible links between major depression and cognitive impairment, has many strengths. The women, aged 65 to 79 years when they enrolled in a trial of postmenopausal hormone treatment, underwent extensive screening. Goveas and co-workers used a highly sensitive and specific screening tool to identify individuals with depressive disorders, and they utilized extensive neuropsychiatric examinations and thorough medical diagnosis to recognize cases of moderate cognitive impairment and probable dementia.

The researchers observed that 8% of the women had medically significant depressive symptoms at study entry, and that these persons had roughly double the chance of mild cognitive impairment as those who didn't experience depression, after adjusting for confounders. Females with depressive symptoms additionally ran twice the risk of acquiring likely dementia as those who did not possess depressive indicators. Interestingly, these odds were not affected by baseline cognitive functionality or historical past of hormone therapy use. The overall incidence of dementia in adults 71 years and older is approximately 11%, and research indicates that the occurrence involving long-term care residents is significantly higher. These new results spotlight the pressing need to discover and treat depression within this prone population. Helping the family members of residents to identify the likely warning signs of depression and also to comprehend the significance of reporting these kinds of indicators is crucial. To raise understanding of the advantages of recognizing and treating depressive symptoms in later life, the American Geriatrics Society's Foundation for Health in Aging (FHA) has published a simple to comprehend synopsis of the JAGS study at http: //bit. ly/WHIMS-AGS-Summary. The FHA's public education Website additionally includes information about depressive disorder in later life and how to recognize it, which is offered at http: //bit. ly/FHADepression.

 

 

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