[Skip to Navigation]
June 1994

Comparison of Neurologic Changes in 'Successfully Aging' Persons vs the Total Aging Population

Author Affiliations

From the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Brockton/West Roxbury Veterans Administration Medical Center (Dr Odenheimer), the Departments of Neurology (Drs Odenheimer, Funkenstein, Pilgrim, and Albert) and Psychiatry (Dr Albert), Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women's Hospital (Drs Funkenstein and Pilgrim) and Massachusetts General Hospital (Dr Albert), the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital (Drs Beckett and Evans and Ms Chown), Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

Arch Neurol. 1994;51(6):573-580. doi:10.1001/archneur.1994.00540180051013

Objective:  To determine age-related changes in neurologic function in the general population.

Design:  To administer a neurologic examination to participants in such a way that it is possible to calculate the proportion of elderly persons in the population with each abnormal finding and the proportion of persons with each finding but without evidence of the medical and neurologic diseases likely to produce neurologic abnormalities (eg, stroke and diabetes).

Setting:  Individuals were selected from a communitydwelling population.

Participants:  A stratified random sample of 467 persons aged 65 years and older were evaluated.

Results:  Many neurologic abnormalities are increasingly common with advancing age and are present in a substantial portion of the elderly population. The prevalence of abnormal neurologic findings not attributable to disease, however, is substantially lower, typically one half to one third the total prevalence. Moreover, the increase with age in the prevalence of abnormal neurologic findings not attributable to major disease varies substantially among the different measures.

Conclusions:  Primitive reflexes and measures of gait show statistically significant increases with age in multiple measurement domains, suggesting a selective age-related vulnerability.

Add or change institution