Hallucinations, cognitive decline, and death in Alzheimer's disease

Neuroepidemiology. 2006;26(2):68-75. doi: 10.1159/000090251. Epub 2005 Dec 13.


The relation of psychotic symptoms to cognitive decline and mortality in Alzheimer's disease (AD) was examined during a mean of 2.2 years in 478 persons selected from clinical settings. Psychotic symptoms were ascertained at baseline and cognition was assessed semiannually with nine tests from which a global measure was formed. In analyses that controlled for age, sex, race, and education, hallucinations (29.6%), especially visual ones, were associated with more rapid global cognitive decline and increased mortality, even after controlling for baseline level of cognition and use of antipsychotic medication, and the association with mortality increased with higher level of education. Delusions and misperceptions were not strongly related to cognitive decline or mortality. The results suggest that hallucinations in Alzheimer's disease, particularly visual ones, are associated with more rapid progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Alzheimer Disease / mortality*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hallucinations*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Psychotic Disorders


  • Antipsychotic Agents