Background: Although elderly people will represent one third of the bipolar population in a few years, data about cognitive and motor features in these patients are very scarce. The aim of this study was to compare the cognitive and motor functioning between elderly euthymic patients with bipolar disorder (BD) and healthy controls, as well as to determine the degree of correlation with psychosocial functioning.
Methods: Euthymic older adults with BD (n=20) and healthy controls (n=20) were evaluated with traditional clinical instruments and measures of exposure to psychotropic drugs and extrapyramidal symptoms. All subjects completed an extensive neuropsychological battery.
Results: Patients with BD had more extrapyramidal symptoms and worse performance than healthy controls in psychomotor speed, verbal memory, and executive functions even after controlling sub-clinical symptomatology. These findings were not associated with age at onset or length of illness or with current pharmacological exposure. Psychosocial functioning correlated negatively with performance in psychomotor speed and executive function, and with extrapyramidal symptoms.
Limitations: The small sample size and cross-sectional design.
Conclusions: Older adult patients with BD in a euthymic state could have a similar cognitive and motor profile to that described in younger euthymic bipolar patients. Cognitive-motor disturbances may help to explain impairments in daily functioning among elderly patients with bipolar disorder during remission.