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Diagnosing dementia in the oldest-old

Dr Melissa Slavin
Research Centre DCRC Assessment and Better Care
Partner Institution Centre-based
Project Description

The diagnosis of dementia currently hinges on assessment of cognition and function. Normative data for cognition is generally only available for younger age groups, so that results of cognitive assessment in the oldest-old are difficult to interpret. Further, there is little understanding of what is 'normal' function in this age group, who may be significantly affected by sensory and physical restrictions.

This project proposes to investigate both cognition and function in the oldest-old to develop a better understanding of the range of abilities and examine whether a 'normative' database can be developed, and also investigate whether recommendations for diagnosing dementia in the oldest-old can be devised.

Initially we will collate data from existing projects, namely the Sydney Centenarian Study, and the Memory and Ageing Study (MAS) which is collecting additional data on those aged 90 and above for this project.

Both projects include longitudinal follow-up data which we will examine for rate of change. If successful in gaining external funding we would collect additional data to increase the sample size, especially in the 90-95 year old age group, and increase the number of longitudinal follow-ups (e.g. interval follow-up in the MAS cohort).

We will conduct a survey with clinicians to evaluate how dementia is currently being diagnosed in the oldest-old.

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