Background: The Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (Sydney MAS) was initiated in 2005 to examine the clinical characteristics and prevalence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and related syndromes, and to determine the rate of change in cognitive function over time.
Methods: Non-demented community-dwelling individuals (N = 1037) aged 70–90 were recruited from two areas of Sydney, following a random approach to 8914 individuals on the electoral roll. They underwent detailed neuropsychiatric and medical assessments and donated a blood sample for clinical chemistry, proteomics and genomics. A knowledgeable informant was also interviewed. Structural MRI scans were performed on 554 individuals, and subgroups participated in studies of falls and balance, metabolic and inflammatory markers, functional MRI and prospective memory. The cohort is to be followed up with brief telephone reviews annually, and detailed assessments biannually.
Results: This is a generally well-functioning cohort mostly living in private homes and rating their health as being better than average, although vascular risk factors are common. Most (95.5%) participants or their informants identified a cognitive difficulty, and 43.5% had impairment on at least one neuropsychological test. MCI criteria were met by 34.8%; with19.3% qualifying for amnestic MCI, whereas 15.5% had non-amnestic MCI; 1.6% had impairment on neuropsychological test performance but no subjective complaints; and 5.8% could not be classified. The rate of MCI was 30.9% in the youngest (70–75) and 39.1% in the oldest (85–90) age bands. Rates of depression and anxiety were 7.1% and 6.9% respectively.
Conclusions: Cognitive complaints are common in the elderly, and nearly one in three meet criteria for MCI. Longitudinal follow-up of this cohort will delineate the progression of complaints and objective cognitive impairment, and the determinants of such change.