Triaging forgetfulness

According to a US-based study, some subjective memory complaints are more predictive of cognitive impairment than others.

In the study, 16,964 women, with a mean age of 74 years, participated. Research involved telephone cognitive assessments, and a questionnaire regarding subjective memory complaints.

The results showed that simply forgetting things from one second to the next is a normal part of ageing, and not necessarily associated with cognitive impairment. However, other complaints, such as trouble following a group conversation, or finding one’s way around familiar streets, increase the odds of cognitive impairment. Also the more complaints a person had about memory, the higher their likelihood of cognitive impairment.

The research could help doctors triage which patients should receive follow-up for memory complaints, while putting other patients at ease.