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Psychiatric symptoms in a total population of very elderly: data from physician examinations and informant reports

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Abstract Knowledge about the epidemiology of psychiatric symptoms and associated variables in the growing cohort of very elderly is sparse. The aim of this study was to further explore this issue in a very elderly population using data from physician examinations and informant interviews. Three-hundred-and-thirty persons aged 90 and over were extensively examined by physicians, including the administration of a psychiatric interview. Informants were also interviewed. Of the 330 participants, 253 persons had complete data. Of the 253, 114 were suffering from dementia and 139 were not. Generally the informants reported more psychiatric symptoms than what were recorded at the physicians' examinations. The most commonly reported symptoms included sleep disturbances anxiety and suicidal thoughts. If dementia was present, informants generally reported more psychiatric symptoms than the persons themselves. However, both suicidal and depressive thoughts were more often registered at the physicians' examinations. No correlations were found between somatic disorders, social support, demographic variables or disabilities in daily living and number of psychiatric symptoms according to informant or physician data. The prevalence of psychiatric symptoms was generally high, especially if dementia was present. The agreement between physician and informant data concerning psychiatric symptoms was poor.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1997-08-01

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