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An Australian study has found that a majority of individuals who develop symptoms of schizophrenia when they are 50 years or older show a fast decline into dementia. Older schizophrenic patients who do not develop this rapid decline in their mental state, however, actually improve over time. These results of a study were published recently in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
The researchers examined 27 patients with late-onset schizophrenia and 34 healthy people with an average age of 70. During the first year of the study, none of the patients in either group showed signs of cognitive decline. After 5 years, however, about 50% of the schizophrenic patients had been diagnosed with dementia, compared with zero in the healthy group. Of the 19 schizophrenic patients who remained in the study, 5 were diagnosed with Alzheimer?s disease, 1 with dementia as a result of strokes in the brain, and 3 with other kinds of dementia.