Navigation Links
Mental Skills Can Decline Years Before Dying
Date:8/27/2008

Study of seniors found it's not all part of normal aging process

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- In their golden years, men and women who remain free of dementia will nonetheless undergo an accelerated drop in key mental skills as much as 15 years before their death, a new study reveals.

Verbal ability, spatial reasoning and perceptual speed are the specific victims of this cognitive decline, which is not, the researchers stressed, a routine part of the aging process.

Instead, this so-called "terminal decline phase" preceding death appears to be the slowly unfolding product of several underlying factors, perhaps including early heart disease, insufficient physical and mental exercise, or even dementia that is so nascent as to be undetectable.

"Before we conducted these analyses, we knew, based on evidence from previous studies, that we might expect acceleration in decline on cognitive abilities before death," said study author Valgeir Thorvaldsson, from the department of psychology at Goteborg University, in Sweden. "[And] our findings clearly showed there to be a pattern of terminal decline, even among relatively healthy individuals, that the brain changes that influence our cognitive abilities in old age occur over a relatively long period of time, even among individuals who remain non-demented until they die."

Thorvaldsson and his colleagues discussed their work in the Aug. 27 online issue of Neurology.

The researchers uncovered evidence of a non-dementia-related dip in mental acuity by tracking the mental skills of 288 Goteberg residents from the age of 70 to their death --which occurred, on average, by age 84.

Over a 30-year period, each male and female participant underwent a maximum of 12 mental health tests, while continuously being evaluated for the possible onset of dementia.

The Swedish team concluded that elderly mental skills do indeed begin to deteriorate independent of both age and dementia. And they expressed some surprise at how much in advance of death such mental decline seems to begin.

Verbal ability, they noted, appeared to start a sharp accelerated decline more than six years prior to death, while a slide in spatial reasoning started to manifest nearly eight years out. However, perceptual speed --or the ability to correctly and quickly compare figures -- was the first to go, beginning to drop off as much as 15 years before death.

The mapping of such occurrences could ultimately help to establish identifiable markers for medical professionals to look for when assessing the possible degeneration of mental health among their elderly patients, the researchers said.

Meanwhile, Dr. James S. Goodwin, director of the Sealy Center of Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, said the study's principal value is the way in which it drives home the distinction between the normal aging process and the dying process.

"Typically, when you ask the question, how does mental function change with age the older you get, it's easy to mix up people who are merely old with people who are, in fact, dying," he noted. "But the two are not the same."

"And this study," Goodwin added, "illustrates very clearly that there is a certain period before death from so-called natural causes where mental function declines at an accelerating pace. And while most investigators had thought that this kind of decline begins between three to five years before death, this study shows that it, in fact, can be traced back to a starting point that is a lot earlier than previously thought."

More information

For additional information on screening for age-related cognitive decline, visit the American Psychological Association.



SOURCES: Valgeir Thorvaldsson, department of psychology, Goteborg University, Goteborg, Sweden; James S. Goodwin, M.D., professor, geriatrics, and director, Sealy Center of Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Aug. 27, 2008, Neurology, online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. NARSAD Introduces Healthy Minds Across America, an International Event Recognizing the Toll of Mental Illness, on Sunday, Sept. 14
2. Grading the States; Mental Health Services Survey
3. Experimental Apartment in Beijing Achieves 99% Purity of Indoor Air
4. Lack of Time on Tummy Shown to Hinder Achievement of Developmental Milestones, Say Physical Therapists
5. New From-the-Ground Report Reformulates Simplistic Argument About HIV/ AIDS and Health Care Systems in a Fundamental Way
6. CoSign Digital Signature Healthcare Solution for South Carolina Department of Mental Health
7. CIHR announces $4.4 million to improve mental health of Canadians
8. Uninsured With Mental Illness and Addiction Disorders Not Covered by State Healthcare Initiatives
9. The Supports Intensity Scale Assessment Can be Used to Build Robust Funding Methods for Developmental Disability Services, New Research Reveals
10. Depression and Bipolar Results Worth Striving For - A New Recovery Model For Mental Illness
11. Beleaguered Howe Developmental Center Remains Open Despite Additional Deaths and Ongoing Violations of Human Rights
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Mental Skills Can Decline Years Before Dying
(Date:5/28/2016)... ... 2016 , ... After a year and a half of planning the Multiple Pathways of ... Multiple Pathways of Recovery Conference was held May 2 -4, 2016 at the Mystic ... came together to explore the many pathways individuals use to get into and sustain their ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... May 27, 2016 , ... Two director-level employees of Horizon Blue Cross Blue ... Industry (TWIN) 2016 honorees. The award recognizes businesswomen who excel in their fields ... Director of the MLTSS (Managed Long-Term Services and Supports) Program at Horizon NJ Health ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... , ... This campaign aims to provide a path to improved education and ... and change. , As nearly 795,000 Americans suffering from a new or recurrent stoke ... with an estimated 129,000 of these people dying from stroke, it’s become our nation’s ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Aimed at nurses and employees in ... courtesy of leaders in the nursing and health care industry. It also provides ... and associations—namely Jones & Bartlett Learning. , Jones & Bartlett Learning is adding ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... ... Despite last week’s media reports hinting at a June rate hike after the ... for an interest rate increase, according to Rajeev Dhawan of the Economic Forecasting Center ... Market Committee (FOMC) dot charts are of interest to the press for their noise ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/27/2016)... PUNE, India , May 27, 2016 ... in the instances of hypertension is driving ambulatory blood ... muscles lose their elasticity and their ability to respond ... blood pressure. This condition can lead to various cardiovascular ... and peripheral vascular disease. These diseases are growing in ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... , May 26, 2016 According ... "Medical Waste Management Market - U.S. Industry Analysis, Size, Share, ... management market in the U.S. was valued at US$ 5.89 ... CAGR of 3.4% from 2015 to 2023 to reach US$ ... analysis of current and emerging needle free drug delivery devices ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... May 25,2016 FDA 510(k) ... Cellvizio platform for urological and surgical applications ... inventor of Cellvizio®, the multidisciplinary confocal laser endomicroscopy ... in the US with the 12 th ... Administration (FDA). This new FDA clearance covers Confocal ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: