Abstract

Objective: Self-reported stroke symptoms (SS), without diagnosed stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), may be associated with decreased cognitive function. We examined the relationship of SS to cognitive function, cognitive impairment, and depressive symptoms in a high-risk population of older adults: those with Type II diabetes mellitus (DM). Method: Participants included 206 older adults (age ≥ 65) in Alabama with DM. Exclusion criteria included reported diagnosis of stroke, TIA, or dementia. SS were assessed via the Questionnaire for Verifying Stroke-free Status (QVSS), cognitive performance was measured via the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS-M), and depressive symptoms were measured via the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Cognitive impairment was defined by using a validated cutoff score of below 21 on the TICS-M. Results: Multiple regression models were used to examine the relationship of SS to cognitive performance and depressive symptoms while controlling for age, race, gender, education, DM duration, DM severity, and cardiovascular comorbidities. Having one SS was significantly associated with increased depressive symptoms (p < .05) and cognitive impairment (p < .05). Having more than one SS was significantly associated with decreased cognitive performance (p < .05), increased depressive symptoms (p < .001), and cognitive impairment (p < .05). Conclusion(s): Our findings provide evidence that SS, in the absence of diagnosed stroke or TIA, are significantly associated with increased cognitive impairment and depressive symptoms. Better recognition and treatment of SS may lead to improved cognitive and mental health outcomes in older adults with diabetes.