Objectives: Research is limited and findings conflict regarding anxiety as a predictor of future cognitive decline in the oldest old persons. We examined the relationship between levels of and changes in anxiety symptoms, and subsequent dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in the oldest old women. Method: We conducted secondary analyses of data collected from 1425 community-dwelling women (mean age = 82.8, SD ±3.1 years) followed on average for five years. The Goldberg Anxiety Scale was used to assess anxiety symptoms at baseline, and an expert clinical panel adjudicated dementia and MCI at follow-up. Participants with probable cognitive impairment at baseline were excluded. Results: At baseline, 190 (13%) women had moderate/severe anxiety symptoms and 403 (28%) had mild anxiety symptoms. Compared with those with no anxiety symptoms at baseline, women with mild anxiety symptoms were more likely to develop dementia at follow-up (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio = 1.66, 95% confidence interval 1.12–2.45). No significant association was observed between anxiety symptoms and MCI. Conclusion: In the oldest old women, our findings suggest that mild anxiety symptoms may predict future risk of dementia, but not MCI. Future studies should explore potential biological mechanisms underlying associations of anxiety with cognitive impairment.
- community sample