Verbal abilities in healthy elderly adults

Robert L. Schum*, Abigail B. Sivan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The Multilingual Aphasia Examination, a short battery of language measures, was administered to 61 healthy, community-dwelling adults (42 female, 19 male) 70 to 90 years old, and their performances were compared with the norms for younger participants. The intent was to investigate the decline of verbal abilities with advancing age and to consider the implications of such a decline for the interpretation of the performances of other elderly individuals. A significant age-related decline in performance was found on only one (Sentence Repetition) of the nine tests. Of note, Sentence Repetition is also the only test that makes specific demands on both short-term memory and serial auditory information processing. The relative stability of verbal performances from the early adult years to the ninth decade suggests that the occurrence of defective performances in older individuals is more likely to reflect the presence of "age-associated" disease rather than "normal" aging. Further, the findings suggest that normative standards derived from the performances of unselected, representative samples of elderly adults may not be adequate bases for clinical interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-134
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Neuropsychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Geriatric community volunteers
  • Normal aging
  • Verbal abilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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