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Self-perceived Difficulties in Everyday Function Precede Cognitive Decline among Older Adults in the ACTIVE Study

  • Sarah Tomaszewski Farias (a1), Tania Giovannetti (a2), Brennan R. Payne (a3), Michael Marsiske (a4), George W. Rebok (a5), K. Warner Schaie (a6), Kelsey R. Thomas (a7), Sherry L. Willis (a6), Joseph M. Dzierzewski (a8), Frederick Unverzagt (a9) and Alden L. Gross (a10)...


Objectives: Careful characterization of how functional decline co-evolves with cognitive decline in older adults has yet to be well described. Most models of neurodegenerative disease postulate that cognitive decline predates and potentially leads to declines in everyday functional abilities; however, there is mounting evidence that subtle decline in instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) may be detectable in older individuals who are still cognitively normal. Methods: The present study examines how the relationship between change in cognition and change in IADLs are best characterized among older adults who participated in the ACTIVE trial. Neuropsychological and IADL data were analyzed for 2802 older adults who were cognitively normal at study baseline and followed for up to 10 years. Results: Findings demonstrate that subtle, self-perceived difficulties in performing IADLs preceded and predicted subsequent declines on cognitive tests of memory, reasoning, and speed of processing. Conclusions: Findings are consistent with a growing body of literature suggesting that subjective changes in everyday abilities can be associated with more precipitous decline on objective cognitive measures and the development of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. (JINS, 2018, 24, 104–112)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Sarah Tomaszewski Farias, University of California, Davis, Department of Neurology 4860 Y Street, suite 3700 Sacramento CA 95817. E-mail:


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