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Senior Moments do not Predict Dementia for Most Cases

Update Date: Mar 11, 2014 09:31 AM EDT

'Senior moments' are characterized by memory lapses, poor judgment and forgetfulness. Oftentimes, people who forget something will blame it on age. Some studies have suggested that these senior moments could be a predictor of dementia. In a new study, however, researchers reported that only around one in five people who deal with these memory problems end up being diagnosed with some kind serious brain-related disorder, such as Alzheimer's disease.

"Patients should not be alarmed unnecessarily by receiving a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment," said lead researcher Dr. Hanna Kaduszkiewicz, of the Institute of Primary Medical Care in Kiel, Germany reported by WebMD.

For this study, the German researchers followed more than 350 adults with mild cognitive impairment for three years. The adults were all aged 75 or older. The researchers tested their cognitive functions by observing whether or not they were capable of learning new material, which included memorizing a list of words. The researchers also tested delayed recall, memory and depression levels.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that 42 percent of the adults had their cognitive functions return back to normal. 36 percent of them had the same mild cognitive impairment symptoms whereas 22 percent ended up developing dementia. The team added that 21 percent of the people had symptoms that fluctuated between normal and mild cognitive impairment. The researchers noted that people who developed dementia were more likely to have some symptoms of depression.

"As long as there are no treatment opportunities to prevent progression to dementia, elderly persons should not be screened for mild cognitive impairment," Kaduszkiewicz said. "Diagnostics should start when patients experience symptoms and problems in their daily life they worry about."

The study, "Prognosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment in General Practice: Results of the German AgeCoDe Study," was published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

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