BACKGROUND - Depression in late life is a risk factor for cognitive decline. Depression is also associated with increased disability and social support deficits; these may precede conversion to dementia and inform risk. In this study, we examined if baseline or one-year change in disability and social support predicted later cognitive deterioration.
METHODS - 299 cognitively intact depressed older adults were followed for an average of approximately seven years. Participants received antidepressant treatment according to a standardized algorithm. Neuropsychological testing and assessment of disability and social support were assessed annually. Cognitive diagnosis was reviewed annually at a consensus conference to determine if participants remained cognitively normal, or if they progressed to either dementia or cognitively impaired, no dementia (CIND).
RESULTS - During study participation, 167 individuals remained cognitively normal (56%), 83 progressed to CIND (28%), and 49 progressed to dementia (16%). Greater baseline instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) deficits predicted subsequent conversion to a cognitive diagnosis (CIND or dementia). However, neither baseline measures nor one-year change in basic ADLs (BADLs) and social support predicted cognitive conversion. In post hoc analyses, two IADL measures (managing finances, preparing meals) significantly increased the odds of cognitive conversion.
CONCLUSIONS - Greater IADL deficits predicted increased risk of cognitive conversion. Assessment of IADL deficits may provide clues about risk of later cognitive decline.