Effects of health status on word finding in aging

Martin L. Albert, Avron Spiro, Keely J. Sayers, Jason A. Cohen, Christopher B. Brady, Mira Goral, Loraine K. Obler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate effects of health status on word-finding difficulty in aging, adjusting for the known contributors of education, sex, and ethnicity. DESIGN: Cross-sectional. SETTING: Community. PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred eighty-four adults aged 55 to 85 (48.6% female) participating in an ongoing longitudinal study of language in aging. MEASUREMENTS: Medical, neurological, and laboratory evaluations to determine health status and presence or absence of hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Lexical retrieval evaluated with the Boston Naming Test (BNT) and Action Naming Test. RESULTS: Unadjusted regression models showed that presence of diabetes mellitus was not related to naming. Presence of hypertension was associated with significantly lower accuracy on both tasks (P<.02). Adjustment for demographics attenuated the effect of hypertension (P<.08). For the BNT, a variable combining presence, treatment, and control of hypertension was marginally significant (P<.10), with subjects with uncontrolled hypertension being least accurate (91.4%). Previously observed findings regarding the effects of age, education, sex, and ethnicity were confirmed. CONCLUSION: In this sample of older adults, hypertension contributed to the word-finding difficulty of normal aging, but diabetes mellitus did not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2300-2305
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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