Late life anxiety is associated with decreased memory and executive functioning in community dwelling older adults

J Anxiety Disord. 2013 Aug;27(6):567-75. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2012.10.010. Epub 2012 Nov 6.


This study assessed the degree to which anxiety and depression symptoms are associated with memory and executive functioning among community-dwelling older adults (N=120; M age=74.9 years, SD=7.2 years; 62% women). Participants completed the Geriatric Anxiety Scale, Geriatric Depression Scale, Comorbidity Index, California Verbal Learning Test, Second Edition (CVLT-II), and the Trail Making, Verbal Fluency, and 20 Questions subtests of the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS). Multiple regression analyses indicated that anxiety and depression predicted poorer ability to learn new information (CVLT-II, Trials 1-5). Both anxiety and depression predicted performance on the D-KEFS Trail Making test, Number-Letter Switching condition. Anxiety, but not depression, predicted decreased categorization as measured by the D-KEFS 20 Questions, Initial Abstraction Score. Depression but not anxiety, predicted performance on D-KEFS Letter Fluency and Category Fluency. Findings suggest that anxiety and depression have unique relationships with cognitive functioning in community-dwelling older adults.

Keywords: Aging; Anxiety; Cognition; Executive functions; Memory; Older adults.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors