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Depression occurring later in life is not necessarily a new phenomenon. A number of elderly individuals have found it difficult to deal with a shift in life, limited capabilities and a loss of independence. Now, according to new research, this depression may also have an association with cognitive impairment and suggest an increased dementia risk.

A recent Psych Central report examined this research, highlighting that in 3 percent to 63 percent of individuals demonstrating mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, symptoms of depression occur. Additional studies have also found there is an increased risk of diagnosed dementia among individuals with depression in their medical history.

Unfortunately, the link connecting cognitive decline and depression was still not clear.

For Edo Richard, M.D. Ph.D., an exploration into the mechanisms involved in depression occurring late in life was important. He led a team of colleagues at the University of Amsterdam to evaluate 2,160 individuals receiving Medicare assistance.

According to Dr. Richard, depression had a demonstrated relationship to an increased risk of predominant dementia and MCI, advancement from dominant MCI to dementia and incident dementia. It is not related to incident MCI.

Patients with coexisting depression and MCI at the baseline were shown to have a higher risk of advancement towards dementia, vascular dementia in particular. These same individuals did not, however, have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The results of this research suggest that depression develops along with the transition from what is considered normal cognition to dementia.

For the growing number of individuals taking care of aging parents, continued research into this topic is of great concern. These caring adult children want access to information and documentation that not only explains a change in the behavior of the aging parent, but also how best to treat and cope with the depressed elderly.

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