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Early Memory Complaints Could Predict Clinical Memory Impairment

Update Date: Feb 21, 2014 02:22 PM EST

As people age, some of them might face memory issues. Even though memory decline has been tied to aging, a new study reported that self-reported cases of memory complications could actually be an early predictor of clinical memory impairment.

For this study, researcher Erin Abner, Ph.D., an assistant professor from the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, interviewed 3,701 male participants who were 60-years-old or older. Abner asked all of the participants one question, which was, "Have you noticed any change in your memory since you last came in?" Abner found that participants who had reported more instances of memory impairment were more likely to develop the clinical condition later on in life.

"It seems that subjective memory complaint can be predictive of clinical memory impairment," Abner said reported by Medical Xpress. "Other epidemiologists have seen similar results, which is encouraging, since it means we might really be on to something."

Abner believes that these findings could help with future research on mental illnesses characterized by memory decline. Despite these findings however, Abner stated that not every lapse in memory should be perceived as an indicator of mental decline.

"If the memory and thinking lapses people notice themselves could be early markers of risk for Alzheimer's disease, we might eventually be able to intervene earlier in the aging process to postpone and/or reduce the effects of cognitive memory impairment," Abner said. "I don't want to alarm people," she said. "It's important to distinguish between normal memory lapses and significant memory problems, which usually change over time and affect multiple aspects of daily life."

The study was provided for by the University of Kentucky.

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