AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Memory Complaints in Older Women May Signal Thinking Problems Decades Later

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New research published in the journal Neurology suggests that older women who complain of memory problems may be at higher risk for experiencing diagnosed memory and thinking impairment decades later. During the study, 1,107 dementia-free women with an average age of 70 were asked the same question several times over the course of 18 years: “Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most?” At the end of the study, women completed tests of thinking abilities to diagnose whether they had memory or thinking impairment. Other important factors such as years of education, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart disease were considered. A total of 89 women, or eight percent, complained of memory problems at the start of the study. They were 70-percent more likely to develop a diagnosis of memory or thinking impairment during the study than women who did not have any memory complaints, with 53 percent of those with complaints developing a diagnosis compared to 38 percent of those with no memory complaints. Women who had memory complaints 10-years before the end of the study were 90-percent more likely to develop a diagnosis compared to those with no memory complaints at 10-years prior. Women who had memory complaints four-years before the end of the study were three-times more likely to develop a diagnosis than women with no memory complaints four-years prior. “Our findings, though modest, provide further evidence that memory complaints in aging deserve close attention as a possible early warning sign of future thinking and memory problems, even several years in advance,” said the study’s lead researcher. To read more about this study, click here.

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