Background: Maintaining and improving quality of life has become a major focus in geriatric medicine, but the oldest old have received limited attention in clinical investigations. We aimed to investigate the relationship between self-perceived and caregiver-perceived quality of life (QOL), cognitive functioning, and depressive symptoms in the oldest old.
Methods: This IRB-approved prospective study recruited community dwellers aged 90–99 years old. Collected data included neurological evaluation, DSM III-R criteria for dementia, Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Dementia Rating Scale (DRS), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Record of Independent Living (ROIL), and QOL assessment using the Linear Analogue Self Assessment (LASA).
Results: Data on 144 subjects (56 cognitively normal (normal), 13 mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 41 dementia (DEM), 34 dementia with stroke and parkinsonism (DEMSP)) over a three-year period were analyzed. Mean ages ranged from 93 to 94 years, and the majority were female with at least high school education. Overall functional ability was higher in groups without dementia (p < 0.0001). All subjects reported high overall QOL (range 6.76–8.3 out of 10), regardless of cognitive functioning. However, caregivers perceived the subjects’ overall QOL to be lower with increasing severity of cognitive impairment (p < 0.0001). Lower GDS scores correlate with higher self-perceived overall QOL (ρ = −0.38, p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: In our community sample of the oldest old, there was a fairly high level of overall QOL, whether or not cognitive impairment exists. Individuals perceive their QOL better than caregivers do, and the difference in subjects’ and caregivers’ perception is more pronounced for the groups with dementia. QOL is more strongly correlated with depressive symptoms than with dementia severity.