Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Memory Of One In Three People Over 70 Is Impaired, Study Shows

Date:
March 18, 2008
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
More than a third of people over age 70 have some form of memory loss according to a national study. While an estimated 3.4 million Americans have dementia, defined as a loss of the ability to function independently, the researchers estimate that another 5.4 million over age 70 have memory loss that disrupts their regular routine but is not severe enough to affect their ability to complete daily activities.

More than a third of people over age 70 have some form of memory loss according to a national study.
Credit: iStockphoto/Eric Gerrard

More than a third of people over age 70 have some form of memory loss according to a national study by a team of researchers at Duke University Medical Center, the University of Michigan, the University of Iowa, the University of Southern California and the RAND Corporation. The group performed the first population-based study to determine the number of people who have some form of cognitive impairment, with and without dementia.

While an estimated 3.4 million Americans have dementia, defined as a loss of the ability to function independently, the researchers estimate that another 5.4 million over age 70 have memory loss that disrupts their regular routine but is not severe enough to affect their ability to complete daily activities.

"These findings illustrate that nearly every family will be faced with the challenges of caring for a family member with some form of memory impairment," said Brenda Plassman, Ph.D., associate research professor of psychiatry at Duke and the study's lead author. "Even among the people age 71-79, a sizeable number had cognitive impairment. This is an age at which most people expect to have many productive years ahead."

The frequency of memory loss without dementia increased with advancing age and with fewer years of education – similar to the trends seen in dementia.

Plassman explained that throughout the course of the study, individuals with cognitive impairment without dementia progressed to dementia at a rate of about 12 percent per year. On average, the mortality rate for the study group was 8 percent annually but varied across the subtypes of cognitive impairment without dementia.

"While the overall rate of progression to dementia is in line with findings from other studies, the surprising finding here is that some subtypes of cognitive impairment without dementia progressed to dementia at much higher rates, around 20 percent, within one year," Plassman said.

Nearly a quarter of those with memory loss without dementia also had a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, that appeared to be the cause of the cognitive impairment. The researchers speculate that this group is one of the most underdiagnosed subtypes of cognitive impairment because doctors are likely focusing on the primary health issue.

"Given how common cognitive impairment without dementia is, physicians should be alert to this problem as they evaluate and treat the patient for other medical problems," said Robert B. Wallace, M.D., the study's senior author from the University of Iowa. "This may have significant ramifications because it means that patients may not be able to accurately portray their symptoms and may not retain important information about their treatment."

The data, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is from the Aging, Demographics and Memory Study, which is part of the larger Health and Retirement Study conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Aging.

"As the population ages and works longer, understanding the extent of cognitive impairment in the older population is critically important," notes Richard Suzman, Ph.D., director of the NIA's Behavioral and Social Research Program. "Research is now beginning to suggest that interventions – such as controlling hypertension and diabetes or perhaps cognitive training – might help maintain or improve mental abilities with age. As such interventions are tested and widely applied, we should be able to track their impact through this type of research."

A total of 856 study participants were assessed by a healthcare team in their home. During the assessment, the participants completed a neuropsychological examination and family members were asked to evaluate their loved one's memory, ability to complete daily activities and medical history.

A team of experts reviewed the information and assigned a diagnosis based on the general pattern and severity of the symptoms. This information was used to group patients together into subtypes for further analysis. Participants were followed from July 2001 through March 2005.

"With such a sizable number of Americans with some form of cognitive impairment, many of whom will get dementia; it's imperative to increase research funding that could lead to breakthroughs in Alzheimer's diagnosis, prevention and treatment," said William Thies, Ph.D., vice president of Medical and Scientific Relations for the Alzheimer's Association.

Co-authors on the study include Kenneth M. Langa, Gwenith C. Fisher, Steven C. Heeringa, David R. Weir, Mary Beth Ofstedal, James R. Burke, Michael D. Hurd, Guy C. Potter, Willard L. Rodgers, David C. Steffens, John McArdle and Robert J. Willis.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "Memory Of One In Three People Over 70 Is Impaired, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318124436.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (2008, March 18). Memory Of One In Three People Over 70 Is Impaired, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318124436.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "Memory Of One In Three People Over 70 Is Impaired, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318124436.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins