Change point models are used to describe processes over time that show a change in direction. An example of such a process is cognitive ability, where a decline a few years before death is sometimes observed. A broken-stick model consists of two linear parts and a breakpoint where the two lines intersect. Alternatively, models can be formulated that imply a smooth change between the two linear parts. Change point models can be extended by adding random effects to account for variability between subjects. A new smooth change point model is introduced and examples are presented that show how change point models can be estimated using functions in R for mixed-effects models. The Bayesian inference using WinBUGS is also discussed. The methods are illustrated using data from a population-based longitudinal study of ageing, the Cambridge City over 75 Cohort Study. The aim is to identify how many years before death individuals experience a change in the rate of decline of their cognitive ability. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.