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Age Ageing. 1996 May;25(3):201-5.

Prevalence of ageing-associated cognitive decline in an elderly population.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Kuopio, PO Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland.


Different diagnostic definitions have been proposed for use in the characterization of mild cognitive disorders associated with ageing. Previously, we reported a high (38.4%) prevalence of age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) using the National Institute of Mental Health criteria in an elderly population. Recently, a work group of the International Psychogeriatric Association proposed criteria for 'ageing-associated cognitive decline' (AACD). The objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of AACD in an elderly population. We examined 403 randomly selected subjects (68-78 years of age) with tests of memory, cognitive processing, attention, verbal and visuoconstructive functions and with a structured questionnaire for health status and subjective complaints of cognitive decline. In all, 26.6% of the subjects (24.4% of women, 30. 1% or men) fulfilled the AACD criteria. The prevalence was slightly related to age and education. The rate was lowest in the oldest age of 75 - 78 years (20.5%) and highest in the age of 71 -74 years (30%). Subjects with less than 4 years of education had the lowest (14.3%) and subjects with more than 6 years of education had the highest rate (29.4%) for AACD. However, the differences between these subgroups were not statistically significant. These results suggest that the prevalence of AACD is lower than that of AAMI. As AAMI tends to identify a very heterogeneous subject group, the AACD diagnosis, which takes into account age and education specific norms in its inclusion criteria, might prove superior to AAMI in differentiating a meaningful subgroup from an elderly population both for research purposes and in clinical settings.

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