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Keywords:

  • aged;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • cognition

Schouws SNTM, Stek ML, Comijs HC, Dols A, Beekman ATF. Cognitive decline in elderly bipolar disorder patients: a follow-up study. Bipolar Disord 2012: 14: 749–755. © 2012 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Objective:  Older individuals with bipolar disorder may exhibit greater cognitive decline over time compared to mentally healthy elderly individuals. We aimed to investigate neurocognitive performance in bipolar disorder over a period of two years.

Methods:  A comprehensive neuropsychological test battery was applied at baseline and two years later to 65 euthymic elderly outpatients with bipolar disorder (mean age = 68.35, range: 60–90 years) and to a demographically comparable sample of 42 healthy elderly controls. A general linear model was used to measure changes over time for the two groups. The impact of baseline illness characteristics on intra-individual change in neurocognitive performance within the bipolar group was studied by using logistic regression analysis.

Results:  At baseline and at follow up, bipolar disorder patients performed worse on all neurocognitive measures compared to the healthy elderly group. However, there was no significant group-by-time interaction between the bipolar disorder patients and the comparison group.

Conclusions:  Although older bipolar disorder patients have worse cognitive function than normal controls, they did not have greater cognitive decline over a period of two years.