Editor Disagrees with
Predicting Mental Decline After Admitting Memory Problems
memory slip signals memory, cognitive decline, all my friends are on
Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com
Sept. 26, 2014
– Research from a reputable source finds that people who notice their
memory is slipping are much more likely to develop memory and other
cognitive problems. Well, there go all my senior friends and myself. At
age 76, I mostly hangout with my tennis buddies and very “with it”
old-time friends that I share with my wife. I don’t know of a one of us that
does not occasionally complain about our memory.
at the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging say that
people who notice their memory is slipping may be on to something. Their
research appears to confirm that self-reported memory complaints are
strong predictors of clinical memory impairment later in life.
Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biostatistics and associate director
of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at UK, and his group asked 531 people
with an average age of 73, and free of dementia, if they had noticed any
changes in their memory in the last year.
participants were also given annual memory and thinking tests for an
average of 10 years. After the participants died their brains were
examined for evidence of Alzheimer's disease.
study, 56 percent of the participants reported changes in their memory,
at an average age of 82. In my group, 100 percent complain of memory
problems and our average age is probably more like 72… or younger.
The study found
that seniors in their study who reported changes in their memory were
nearly three times more likely to develop memory and thinking problems.
About one in six participants developed dementia during the study, and
80 percent of those first reported memory changes.
Ouch! This is
really bad news for my friends.
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 there may be a significant window of opportunity for intervention
before a diagnosable problem shows up."
Man, do my friends and I need
that intervention… and I’m not joking.
that while these findings add to a growing body of evidence that
self-reported memory complaints can be predictive of cognitive
impairment later in life, there isn't cause for immediate alarm if you
can't remember where you left your keys.
Well, if he
includes losing your keys as a memory problem, my friends and I are way
over the hill. For years I have seen buddies on the tennis court lose
their racquets during a match. A female friend of ours years ago bought
my Lincoln that had a push button entry panel on the door. She called me
a few weeks afterwards to say her locked car was running, she could not
remember the combination and wondered if I still knew it. I didn't.
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," adds Kryscio.
I’m not sure if
he means followed, like sneaking around behind me to gather up things I
lose, or just keeping tabs on how much stuff I lose and how often it
I don’t want to
make light of this research, which was supported by grants from the
National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Aging, and the
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and was published
in the Sept. 24, 2014, online issue of Neurology.
But, I have
some disconnect with this report. In all sincerity, I think all
of my older friends complain about memory problems. I think it is
because we all have them. I prefer to think of it like a computer. The
older we get the more data we cram into our brains and the harder it is
to find something when you need it.
And, on the
other hand, I was the caregiver for my mother over a long multi-year
decline into Alzheimer’s and death. She never complained about her
memory or admitted she had a problem, even on the Christmas day when
should must have asked me eight times what day it was. It was also on
that same Christmas when my wife and I spent most of the day looking my
mother’s purse, which she insisted on hiding in the house, but never
could remember where she had put it.
Twice she had me find her a new doctor after the old ones told her she
was showing signs of Alzheimer's.
Now, these are
the type of memory and mental complications that I say point to a problem. I’m not ready
to agree that losing my keys is the beginning of my mental decline.
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