Cognitive Functioning Improving for Nonagenarians

Improved cognitive function, activities of daily living for nonagenarians born in 1915 versus 1905

THURSDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Nonagenarians born in 1915 have significantly better cognitive functioning and improved activities of daily living scores than those born in 1905, according to a study published online July 11 in The Lancet.

Kaare Christensen, M.D., from the Danish Aging Research Center in Odense, and colleagues compared the cognitive and physical functioning of two cohorts of Danish nonagenarians born 10 years apart. Participants included 2,262 adults born in 1905 and assessed at age 93 years, and 1,584 adults born in 1915 and assessed at age 95 years.

The researchers found that in the 1915 cohort the chance of surviving to age 93 years was 28 percent higher (6.50 versus 5.06 percent) and the chance of surviving to 95 years was 32 percent higher (3.93 versus 2.98 percent) than in the 1905 cohort. Compared with the 1905 cohort, the 1915 cohort performed significantly better on the mini-mental state examination, and the proportion of participants obtaining maximum scores was significantly higher (23 versus 13 percent). The cognitive composite score was significantly better in the 1915 cohort than in the 1905 cohort. There was no consistent difference between the cohorts on physical performance tests, but activities of daily living scores were significantly better in the 1915 versus the 1905 cohort (2.0 versus 1.8).

"Despite being two years older at assessment, the 1915 cohort scored significantly better than the 1905 cohort on both the cognitive tests and the activities of daily living score, which suggests that more people are living to older ages with better overall functioning," the authors write.

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Physician’s Briefing Staff

Physician’s Briefing Staff

Published on July 11, 2013

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