Early warning signs of dementia

A new US study has revealed that dementia sufferers cease to notice their memory loss around two to three years before the condition actually develops.

The study published in Neurology found that a drop in memory awareness preceded the development of dementia symptoms by around two to three years. This would suggest that the time to begin worrying about Alzheimer’s is not when you experience ‘senior moments’, but rather, when you stop noticing those moments altogether.

For a period of 10 years researchers from Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago tracked and tested over 2000 people with an average age of 76. All participants were initially dementia-free and received annual memory and thinking activity tests. They were also regularly asked to rate and answer questions about their memory performance.

According to lead researcher Dr Robert Wilson: “Our findings suggest that unawareness of one’s memory problems is an inevitable feature of late-life dementia, driven by a build-up of dementia-related changes in the brain. Lack of awareness of memory loss is common in dementia, but we haven’t known much about how common it is, when it develops or why some people seem more affected than others.”

“This study underscores the importance of family members looking for help from doctors and doctors getting information from friends or family when making decisions about whether a person has dementia, since people may be unable to give reliable reports about the history of their own memory and thinking abilities,” he said.

Read more about this at The Guardian

Do you know anyone who has developed Alzheimer’s? Does this study reflect your experience? Do you think that knowing these warning signs may help you or your loved ones?