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Assessing cognitive impairment in an ethnically diverse cohort of oldest-old: the life after 90 study

Though dementia rates vary by racial or ethnic groups, it is unknown if these disparities remain among those aged 90 or older. To test this hypothesis, we used baseline clinical evaluation of 541 ethnically and racially diverse individuals participating in the LifeAfter90 Study to assess how associations between core demographic characteristics and measures of physical and cognitive performance differ across the racial/ethnic groups. Participants in this study were long-term non-demented members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California. They were clinically evaluated and diagnosed with normal or impaired cognition (mild cognitive impairment and dementia) through an in-person comprehensive clinical assessment consisting of a detailed medical history, physical and neurological examination, functional, and cognitive tests. The average age at enrollment was 93.0 ± 2.6 years, 62.4% female and 34.2% non-Hispanic White. At initial evaluation 301 participants had normal cognition and 165 had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and despite screening, 69 participants were determined to have dementia. Age, education, 3MS, FAQ and CDR scores were significantly associated with cognitive impairment (normal versus MCI and dementia), but not gender. There was a significant univariate association between race/ethnicity and cognitive impairment (p < 0.02) being highest among Black (57.4%) and lowest among Asian (32.7%) individuals. After adjustment for age, gender, and education, however, prevalence of cognitive impairment was not influenced by race or ethnicity. Our results confirm the ability to reliably assess clinical diagnosis in a diverse sample of very old individuals.

Authors: Petrosyan, Diana; Gilsanz, Paola; DeCarli, Charles; et al.

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2023 May;35(5):979-986. Epub 2023-03-04.

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