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Keywords:

  • dementia;
  • longitudinal study;
  • population-based study;
  • behavioural and psychological symptoms;
  • cognitive impairment

Objective

Behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPS) are common in the older population and may be an indication of early dementia. We explored the predictive effect of the presence of BPS on the 2-year progression to dementia in a cognitively impaired population aged 65 years and over without dementia at baseline.

Methods

Twelve symptoms were measured in 2024 participants without dementia at baseline as part of a population-based longitudinal study of ageing. The risk of progression to dementia was predicted in those with cognitive impairment for each individual BPS and using a BPS composite score.

Results

Wandering and persecution were independently associated with progression to dementia after adjustment for socio-demographic factors, cognitive domains and other BPS. When stratifying by cognitive function, those with low cognition (MMSE 0–18) and 4 or more BPS were more likely to progress to dementia than those without BPS.

Conclusions

We have shown that some psychiatric symptoms are associated with increased short-term progression to dementia in those with low cognition. The predictive effect of BPS in dementia progression has implications for risk stratification of those at high risk of progression to dementia, along with memory impairment, other cognitive impairment and health variables. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.