Neuropsychiatric Symptoms as Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline in Clinically Normal Older Adults: The Cache County Study

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25 Scopus citations


Introduction: There has been considerable progress in identifying early cognitive and biomarker predictors of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) are common in AD and appear to predict progression after the onset of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Objectives: The objective of the study is to examine the relationship between NPS in clinically normal older adults and subsequent cognitive decline in a population-based sample. Methods: The Cache County Study on Memory in Aging consists of a population-based sample of 5,092 older adults. We identified 470 clinically normal adults who were followed for an average period of 5.73 years. NPS were evaluated at the baseline clinical assessment using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI). NPI domain scores were quantified as the product of frequency X severity in individual NPI domains, and then summed for the NPI-Total. Neuropsychological measures were collected at baseline and at each subsequent follow-up wave. Linear mixed-effects models assessed the association of NPI-Total, NPI-Depression, and NPI-Anxiety scores (obtained at baseline) on longitudinal change in neuropsychological performance, controlling for age, sex, and education. Results: Baseline NPI-Total score was associated with a more rapid rate of decline in word list memory, praxis recall, and animal fluency. Baseline NPI-Depression was not associated with later decline on any of the cognitive tests, while baseline NPI-Anxiety was associated with decline in Symbol Digit Modality. Conclusion: In conclusion, among clinically normal older adults derived from this population-based study, total burden of NPS was associated with longitudinal cognitive decline. These results add to the evidence that NPS are risk factors for or clinical indicators of preclinical dementia syndrome. Our study was an exploratory study and we did not control for multiple comparisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Neuropsychiatric symptoms
  • dementia
  • mild cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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