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New 'everyday cognition' scale tracks how older adults function in daily life
Date:6/30/2008

WASHINGTON As more adults age into the high-risk period for cognitive impairment, clinicians need simple and reliable methods to identify where they may have problems in everyday life that reveal underlying changes in the brain. A new, carefully validated questionnaire called Everyday Cognition (ECog), when filled out by someone who knows an older adult well, can sensitively evaluate the performance of everyday activities that reflect basic mental functioning, according to a report in the July issue of Neuropsychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

Keeping track of things, sorting the mail, following a conversation, shopping for a few things without a list, finding the car in a parking lot activities such as these, if compromised, could signal the risk for or presence of disease. The quick and easy identification of mild functional problems in older adults could be extremely useful in primary-care settings, where dementia and its early warning signs are frequently missed.

Seven academic and Veterans Administration psychologists, led by co-authors Sarah Tomaszewski Farias, PhD, and Dan Mungas, PhD, of the University of California, Davis, teamed up to develop and validate this new 39-question screening tool. The team first collected data on everyday functioning and mental status for 576 older adults, averaging nearly 77 years old, who were evaluated at the University of California's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. Of these individuals, 174 were diagnosed as cognitively normal, 126 were diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (which often develops into dementia), and 276 were diagnosed with dementia (progressive cognitive decline).

The authors also interviewed neurologists, nurses, neuropsychologists and other professionals who work with people with dementia. Building on their insights, Farias and her colleagues generated items describing everyday function in seven key cognitive domains: memory,
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Contact: Public Affairs Office
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American Psychological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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