A diagnosis of dementia in middle-aged and elder people is often complicated by physical frailty and comorbid neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPSs). Previous studies have identified NPSs as a risk factor for dementia. The aim of this study was to figure out to what extent individual NPS and certain demographic factors increased the risk of dementia in middle-aged and senior psychiatric inpatients.
One hundred twenty-seven middle-aged and senior patients admitted to psychiatric wards for late-onset (age ≥ 50 years) psychiatric symptoms were included and categorized into dementia or non-demented psychiatric disorders (NDPD). The patients’ demographic information and medical records were collected during the first hospitalization and subjected to statistical analyses.
41.73% of the registered psychiatric inpatients were diagnosed as dementia in which Alzheimer’s disease (AD) was the dominant subtype. The NDPD group consisted of nine individual diagnoses, except for schizophrenia. The frequencies of dementia inpatients increased with first episode age while that of NDPD inpatients decreased with first episode age. In the enrolled inpatients, most of dementia patients were males while females accounted for a higher proportion of NDPD patients. 58.49% of enrolled dementia inpatients presented cognitive deficit (CD) as the initial symptom while the remaining 41.51% showed NPS as initial symptom. Of the 12 NPSs, agitation and apathy greatly and significantly increased risk of dementia in psychiatric inpatients with late-onset psychiatric symptoms.
These results added evidence that the demented patients admitted to psychiatric ward are more likely to be male, older first episode age, and have characteristic NPS including aberrant motor behavior (AMB), hallucinations, agitation, irritability and apathy. Further, this study emphasized the importance of agitation and apathy of NPSs functioning as risk factors of dementia in these inpatients.