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Do subjective memory complaints predict cognitive dysfunction over time? A six-year follow-up of the Maastricht Aging Study.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Middle-aged and older people often worry that their perceived diminishing memory function may indicate incipient dementia.

OBJECTIVES

The present study addresses questions regarding subjective memory complaints as a predictor of lower performance on cognitive tasks. Also, in participants with subjective memory complaints it was investigated, whether trying to keep mentally active improved memory function. Characteristics of the participants who were and were not interested in an intervention to decrease worries and to improve memory in daily life were determined.

METHODS

Data were obtained from a large longitudinal study: the Maastricht Aging Study, involving 557 participants aged 55 to 85 years. Follow-up measurement was performed after 6 years. Outcome variables were simple, complex and general information processing speed and immediate and delayed recall.

RESULTS

At baseline, forgetfulness was associated with a slower general information processing and delayed recall. At the six-year follow-up, being forgetful was not associated with a significant change in cognitive performance. Taking steps to remain cognitively active was not a predictor of better performance on cognitive tasks at baseline or at the six-year follow-up.

CONCLUSION

Being forgetful might be an indicator of slower general information processing speed and delayed recall at baseline but does not predict cognitive change over 6 years in older adults. However, the effects are rather small and cannot directly be generalized to applications in clinical settings. Other factors, such as depression and anxiety might also underlie the cause of the forgetfulness.

Links

  • Publisher Full Text
  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, European Graduate School of Neuroscience, Euron, Maastricht University, The Netherlands. matrine.mol@np.unimaas.nl

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    Source

    MeSH

    Aged
    Anxiety
    Cognition Disorders
    Depression
    Educational Status
    Female
    Follow-Up Studies
    Humans
    Male
    Memory Disorders
    Mental Recall
    Middle Aged
    Neuropsychological Tests
    Prognosis
    Psychiatric Status Rating Scales

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    16676287