Subjective Word-Finding Difficulty Reduces Engagement in Social Leisure Activities in Alzheimer's Disease

Farrell, Meagan T.; Zahodne, Laura B.; Stern, Yaakov; Dorrejo, Jhedy; Yeung, Philip; Cosentino, Stephanie

OBJECTIVES: To assess the influence of subjective word-finding difficulty on degree of engagement in social leisure activities among individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD). DESIGN: Analysis of data collected from the second cohort of the Multicenter Study of Predictors of Disease Course in Alzheimer's disease. SETTING: Four study sites in the United States and France. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals diagnosed with mild to moderate AD (N = 236). MEASUREMENTS: On separate questionnaires, participants were asked to 1) report whether they had trouble finding the right word when speaking (subjective word-finding difficulty) and 2) rate their frequency and enjoyment of social and nonsocial leisure activities. Objective language measures included object naming and verbal fluency. Measures of dependence, depression, cognitive status, age, sex, and education were also included as covariates in regression analyses. RESULTS: Fifty-two percent of the sample reported word-finding difficulty, and subjective complaints were correlated with poorer verbal fluency scores. Subjective word-finding difficulty was selectively related to social but not nonsocial activity measures. Endorsers of word-finding difficulty reported less frequency and enjoyment of social leisure activities, controlling for effects of covariates and objective word-finding ability. In contrast, lower engagement in nonsocial activities was associated with older age and higher depression scores but not with word-finding complaints. Caregivers' reports of study participants' activities corroborated these results. CONCLUSION: Individuals with AD who are aware of increasing word-finding failures are less likely to participate in and enjoy socially oriented leisure activities. This finding may have significant implications for clinical and health outcomes in AD. Failure to evaluate subjective language complaints could result in social withdrawal symptoms, threatening the individual's quality of life and increasing caregiver burden. Reduced social interaction may ultimately exacerbate language symptoms over time.


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Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

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February 24, 2018