OBJECTIVE: Bereavement can result in unresolved and prolonged grief, often termed prolonged grief disorder (PGD). The impact of PGD on cognitive functioning is poorly understood. The aim of the study was to compare the cognitive decline, assessed by repeated measures of different cognition domains, between persons with normal and PGD and a non-grieving reference population in a 7-year follow-up study.
METHODS: The study sample comprised 3126 non-demented persons, mean age: 64 years, of the Rotterdam Study. Participants were classified into three groups: no grief (reference group, N = 2,582), normal grief (N = 418), and prolonged grief disorder (N = 126). Participants were assessed with the Complicated Grief Inventory and underwent cognitive testing (Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE], Letter-Digit Substitution test, Stroop test, Word fluency task, Word learning test). Analyses were adjusted for baseline cognition and depressive symptoms; persons with major depressive disorders were excluded.
RESULTS: Compared with the reference group, participants with PGD showed a decrease in global cognitive function, MMSE scores, and World learning test (immediate and delayed) over time. Participants with normal grief did not show a stronger cognitive decline in any of cognitive tests than the reference group.
CONCLUSIONS: Participants with PGD showed a stronger cognitive decline than the reference group during 7 years of follow-up. This suggests that PGD is a risk factor for cognitive decline, but this study cannot detect the psychobiological mechanism underlying this longitudinal association.
Objective/Background: About 15% of grievers experience complicated grief. We determined cross-sectional and longitudinal relations of grief and complicated grief with sleep duration and quality in the general population of elderly adults.
Participants: We included 5,421 men and women from the prospective population-based Rotterdam Study.
Methods: The Inventory of Complicated Grief was used to define grief and complicated grief. We assessed sleep with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.
Results: After 6 years, 3,511 (80% of survivors) underwent the follow-up interview. Complicated grief was cross-sectionally associated with shorter sleep duration and lower sleep quality. These associations were explained by the presence of depressive symptoms. The prospective analyses showed that sleep duration and sleep quality did not decline further during follow-up of persons who experienced grief or complicated grief.
Conclusion: In community-dwelling, middle-aged and older adults, persons with normal and complicated grief had both a shorter sleep duration and a lower sleep quality, mainly explained by depressive symptoms. However, prospective analyses showed that sleep quality and sleep duration do not decline further in persons with normal grief and complicated grief.