Yoneda et al., 2018. Trajectories of Personality Traits Preceding Dementia Diagnosis

Introduction: Although personality change is typically considered a symptom of dementia, some studies suggest that personality change may be an early indication of dementia. This project examines this possibility by examining trajectories of personality traits preceding dementia diagnosis in several longitudinal studies of aging.

Methods: Three independent series of latent growth curve models were fitted to data from the Origins of Variance in the Oldest-Old (OCTO-Twin), Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) and Einstein Aging Study (EAS) to estimate trajectories of personality traits in individuals with incident dementia diagnosis (Total N = 295), in individuals with incident Mild Cognitive Impairment (N = 135), and in individuals who did not receive a diagnosis during follow-up periods (Total N = 2109).

Results: Controlling for sex, age, education, depressive symptoms, and the interaction between age and education, growth curve analyses consistently revealed significant linear increases in neuroticism preceding dementia diagnosis in both datasets and in individuals with MCI. Analyses examining individuals without a diagnosis revealed non-significant change in neuroticism overtime.

Discussion: Replication in several datasets provides compelling evidence that increases in neuroticism may be early indication of dementia, which can facilitate development of screening assessments and aid in early care strategies.