Self-Reported Memory Complaint Strong Predictor of Alzheimer's Disease

First Posted: Sep 29, 2014 08:48 AM EDT

A new study recognizes self-reported memory complaints as strong predictors of Alzheimer's diseases in later life.

Alzheimer's disease - the most common cause of dementia in older adults - is known to affect 1 in 10 people above the age 65. It destroys memory and other important mental functions. This disease maximize function and maintain independence.

Led by scientists at the University of Kentucky's Sanders Brown Center on Aging, the researchers found that complaint of self-reported memory complaints are key indicators of clinical memory impairment later. The finding is based on the evaluation of 531 people with an average age of 73 years and had no symptoms of dementia.

The participants were asked to report if they experienced any changes in their memory in the previous year. They were also given annual memory and thinking tests for an average of 10 years. After the death, the brains of the participants were examined to look for evidence of Alzheimer's disease.

They noticed that during the study, 56 percent of them had changes in memory at an average age of 82. Those who had changes in their memory had a three-fold increased risk of developing memory and thinking problems. 1 in 6 of them developed dementia and 80 percent of them had first memory changes.

"What's notable about our study is the time it took for the transition from self-reported memory complaint to dementia or clinical impairment -- about 12 years for dementia and nine years for clinical impairment -- after the memory complaints began," Kryscio said. "That suggests that there may be a significant window of opportunity for intervention before a diagnosable problem shows up."

These findings add to the evidence that self-reported memory complaints can be predictive of cognitive impairment in later life.

"Certainly, someone with memory issues should report it to their doctor so they can be followed. Unfortunately, however, we do not yet have preventative therapies for Alzheimer's disease or other illnesses that cause memory problems."

The finding was documented in Neurology.

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