Thesis

Functional deficits in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a chronic neurocognitive degenerative disease affecting millions of individuals every day. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) represents a prodromal gray-area state between normal aging and cognitive impairment. MCI is frequently a precursor to several forms of neurocognitive deficits, most commonly Alzheimer's disease. Research suggests that early detection of the inability to carry out activities of daily living (ADL) may aid in identifying those at greatest risk for additional decline. Nonetheless, the severity of ADL functioning in MCI and mild stages of AD remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to characterize impairment in various domains of ADL functioning in MCI relative to AD and normal elderly controls. Participants were recruited from various medical and health centers in the greater Los Angeles area. The sample consisted of 59 AD patients, 38 MCI patients, and 64 normal controls. All participants were administered the Direct Assessment of Functional Status (DAFS), and the following 5 domains will be analyzed: 1) time orientation (Orientation); 2) communication abilities (Communication); 3) transportation knowledge (Transportation); 4) financial skills (Financial); and 5) shopping skills (Shopping). A multivariate analysis of variance was conducted to characterize and assess differences among groups. Results revealed significant differences among all three groups on DAFS overall performance. Post hoc analysis revealed that normal controls performed best, followed by MCI, and then the AD group on most of the DAFS subscales. This information can provide an understanding of the course of functional change and hopefully support the imperative need for the development of methods for treatment plans in functional deficits.

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