Visuospatial and Verbal Memory Differences in Amish Individuals With Alzheimer Disease and Related Dementias

BACKGROUND: Verbal and visuospatial memory impairments are common to Alzheimer disease and Related Dementias (ADRD), but the patterns of decline in these domains may reflect genetic and lifestyle influences. The latter may be pertinent to populations such as the Amish who have unique lifestyle experiences.
METHODS: Our data set included 420 Amish and 401 CERAD individuals. Sex-adjusted, age-adjusted, and education-adjusted Z-scores were calculated for the recall portions of the Constructional Praxis Delay (CPD) and Word List Delay (WLD). ANOVAs were then used to examine the main and interaction effects of cohort (Amish, CERAD), cognitive status (case, control), and sex on CPD and WLD Z-scores.
RESULTS: The Amish performed better on the CPD than the CERAD cohort. In addition, the difference between cases and controls on the CPD and WLD were smaller in the Amish and Amish female cases performed better on the WLD than the CERAD female cases.
DISCUSSION: The Amish performed better on the CPD task, and ADRD-related declines in CPD and WLD were less severe in the Amish. In addition, Amish females with ADRD may have preferential preservation of WLD. This study provides evidence that the Amish exhibit distinct patterns of verbal and visuospatial memory loss associated with aging and ADRD.