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Title: Bereavement-related cognitive impairment in an oldest-old community-dwelling Brazilian sample
Authors: Xavier, Flávio Merino de Freitas [UNIFESP]
Ferraz, Marcos Pacheco de Toledo [UNIFESP]
Trentini, C. M.
Freitas, N. K.
Moriguchi, E. H.
Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP)
Pontificia Univ Catolica Rio Grande Sul
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2002
Publisher: Swets Zeitlinger Publishers
Citation: Journal Of Clinical And Experimental Neuropsychology. Lisse: Swets Zeitlinger Publishers, v. 24, n. 3, p. 294-301, 2002.
Abstract: As it is already known that depression can cause a demonstrable impact on cognition in elderly subjects, the objective of this study was to determine whether also the mourning process is associated with any cognitive impairment in this age range. A random and representative sample (a sample with 77 subjects/total county population of oldest-old with 219 subjects = 35%) aged 80 years or more was selected from the county of Veranopolis in the Brazilian rural southern region. Of this group, the cognitive function of subjects without grief and of subjects with the presence of grief were compared. Five neuropsychological tests (the Buschke-Fuld Selective Reminding Test, the word-list from the CERAD battery, the Verbal Fluency Test, and two subtests of the Wechsler memory scale), the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and two self-perceived memory impairment questionnaires were used. Presence of depressive symptomatology was identified by the Yesavage Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). The prevalence rates of some psychiatric diagnoses (syndromic general anxiety disorder, major and minor depression) were compared between the bereaved group and the control group. There was not a statistically significant difference between the scores of controls and subjects with grief in the GDS. The frequency of affective disorders in both groups did not differ. However, the recently bereaved elderly subjects presented a mild cognitive impairment when evaluated with the MMSE, with the digit span test and with Word-list neuropsychological memory test. Likewise these bereaved octogenarian subjects presented more frequently a diagnosis of 'aging-associated cognitive decline' when compared with non-bereaved oldest-old. These results suggest that the normal sadness and/or the chronic stress of the grieving process, even without the presence of an identifiable syndromal-level depression, are associated with memory and cognitive differences among the bereaved oldest-old. Cause-effect relationships, however, cannot be established from this cross-sectional correlational study: Grief may influence cognitive functioning in the elderly, but mildly cognitively compromised elderly persons may be more likely to experience strong grief reactions after loss.
ISSN: 1380-3395
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Appears in Collections:Artigo

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