Study Links Early Memory Lapses To Later Dementia Diagnosis

Those 'senior moments' could be a predicator to dementia later on.

Are you the one in your circle of friends who can never remember names and always misplaces her car keys? A study that followed women for 20 years just linked early memory lapses to dementia in later years. If you sense that you are forgetting more than your peers, it could mean you will face more serious cognitive issues down the road, says the study published in Neurology.

 The study began with 1,107 dementia-free women age 65. Over the course of 18 years, they were periodically asked "Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most?” In the beginning, 89 women -- less than 10 percent of the group -- answered “yes.” After 18 years, the women were tested for thinking ability and memory impairment. Those who had answered “yes” initially were 70 percent more likely than the others to be diagnosed with memory or thinking impairment.

 The study found that about half of those who initially complained about their memories were later diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or dementia, compared to 38 percent of those who initially had no complaints.

So what's the message here? If you or a loved sense you are having memory issues, go see a doctor, advised the researchers. 

“There are a number of health and lifestyle factors that help promote cognitive health in aging, things like staying physically active, maintaining cardiovascular health, getting good sleep, and having a socially active and mentally stimulating lifestyle,” said the study's senior author, Dr. Kristine Yaffe, of the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, the number of people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is projected to rise 40 percent over the next decade. More than 5.1 million people are already afflicted, said the national nonprofit group.

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