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:4/29/2016)... ... ... On Tuesday, April 26, 2016 members of the HomeTown Health network, a ... Deal on SB 258, the “Rural Health Care Relief” Bill. , The bill, which ... to individuals and corporations which donate directly to a “rural hospital” in Georgia, and ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... The White House ... their loans, more information about their loan terms and accounts, and more protections ... debt, including federal and private loans, has reached $1.3 trillion, with 43 million ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... A ... born with severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia have better survival rates if surgery is ... hernia (CDH)—a condition where the diaphragm fails to form completely, letting abdominal organs ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Mobility Designed is redefining mobility with their patent pending ... Crutch evenly distributes body weight from the elbow to the forearm. In consumer ... than with other crutches. , Co-founders Max and Liliana Younger were inspired to design ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... April 29, 2016 , ... Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin ... blame for the majority of skin cancer deaths. More than 10,000 people are expected to ... at diagnosis is 62, it is the one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 Oramed Pharmaceuticals ... clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development of oral drug ... the upcoming PIONEERS 2016 conference, presented by Joseph Gunnar ... in New York . Nadav Kidron ... the conference. Presentation Details:   ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... New market research titled ... report that provides an overview of the Osteoarthritis,s ... identifying new targets and MOAs to produce first-in-class ... in this H1 2016 Osteoarthritis Pipeline report include ... Abiogen Pharma S.p.A., Ablynx NV, Achelios Therapeutics, Inc., ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , April 27, 2016   ... 42% Growth in Recurring Consumable Sales  Clinical ... Mauna Kea Technologies (Euronext: MKEA, OTCQX: MKEAY) inventor of ... its sales for the first quarter ended March 31, ... the execution of its commercial strategy. First ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: