Comparison of Anxiety as Reported by Older People with Intellectual Disabilities and by Older People with Normal Intelligence

Heidi Hermans, ATF Beekman, Evenhuis

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Objectives: Older people with intellectual disabilities (ID) may experience more and different symptoms of anxiety than older people with normal intelligence. Study questions: (1) Is the reported severity of anxiety in this group similar to that in the general older population; (2) Are specific anxiety symptoms reported as frequently by both groups? Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Formal Dutch intellectual disability services and Dutch population-based study. Participants: One hundred fifty-four participants of the Healthy Ageing and Intellectual Disability study with mild or moderate ID (IQ <70), aged 55-85 years, and 2,917 participants of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam with normal intelligence, aged 55-85 years. Measurements: The general anxiety subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Results: Mean (standard deviation) Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale total score of subjects with ID was significantly higher than that of subjects with normal intelligence (3.53 [3.03]) versus 2.53 [3.30]; p < 0.01), whereas the percentage of scores above cutoff in both groups was similar. Four of 7 items were more often reported as present by subjects with ID: "tense or wound up feelings," "frightened feelings," "worrying thoughts," and "sudden feelings of panic." Conclusions: Older people with ID report more symptoms of anxiety than older people with normal intelligence. Tense feelings and worrying especially need more attention, because more than one-half of all older people with ID reported such symptoms.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1391-1398
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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