Little bouts of forgetfulness in adulthood could be an early symptom of Alzheimer's. That's the finding of a new study out of the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
Researchers questioned 531 seniors with an average age of 73 who were free of dementia. The participants were asked if they had experienced any memory problems during the previous year. The subjects were also given yearly memory and thinking tests over a 10-year period.
Some 56 percent reported changes in their memory, beginning around age 82. After they died, the brains of 243 individuals were autopsied for signs of Alzheimer's.
Investigators found that individuals who had experienced so-called "senior moments," marked by mild forgetfulness, were nearly three times more likely to develop memory and thinking problems characteristic of dementia. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia.
Dementia set in about 12 years after the participants first reported memory problems. About one in six individuals reporting cognitive lapses developed dementia.
Lead researcher Richard Kryscio says the findings, published in the journal Neurology, contribute to a growing body of evidence suggesting that mild memory impairment is an early sign of dementia.