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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: March 2021

Chapter 8 - Anxiety and Cognitive Functioning


The past decade has witnessed a proliferation of studies examining anxiety in older populations. This research underscores how anxiety is not just an ancillary symptom of depression, but a clinical issue on its own. Not only does anxiety cause suffering in older adults, but anxious older adults also have more functional disability (Brenes et al., 2005) and a reduced quality of life (Wetherell et al., 2004) compared to non-anxious older adults. In conditions that are common in later life (i.e., poor physical health, depression), those older adults experiencing comorbid anxiety typically have greater disability compared to non-anxious adults with these conditions. Cognitive functioning and the presence of neurocognitive disorders are aspects of comorbidity that have garnered increasing research attention (Beaudreau & O’Hara, 2008). This exciting new research underscores the complexity of the relations between anxiety and cognitive functioning in older individuals.

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