Genetic and environmental factors associated with delirium severity in older adults with dementia

Lauren Massimo, Elizabeth Munoz, Nikki Hill, Jacqueline Mogle, Paula Mulhall, Corey T. McMillan, Linda Clare, David Vandenbergh, Donna Fick, Ann Kolanowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine (1) whether delirium severity was associated with Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype status and occupational complexity, a measure of cognitive reserve, in individuals with delirium superimposed on dementia; and (2) whether decline in delirium severity was associated with these same factors over a post-acute care (PAC) stay. Methods: Control group data (n = 142) from a completed randomized clinical trial were used to address the aims of the study. Delirium severity was calculated by combining items from the Confusion Assessment Method and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. APOE ε4 carriers versus non-carriers were considered. Occupational complexity, a measure of cognitive reserve, was derived from the Lifetime of Experiences Questionnaire. Covariates examined included age, gender, education, Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, and the Charlson comorbidity score. Data were nested (i.e., days nested within persons) and analyzed using multilevel models. Results: The presence of an APOE ε4 allele and higher Clinical Dementia Rating Scale were associated with greater delirium severity at baseline. The presence of an APOE ε4 allele was also associated with greater delirium severity averaged across the PAC stay. Occupational complexity was not associated with baseline delirium severity or average daily delirium severity; however, individuals with low occupational complexity showed a significant decreased in delirium severity during the course of their PAC stay. Conclusions: Individual differences, including genetic factors and level of cognitive reserve, contribute to the severity of delirium in older adults with dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-581
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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