The women were also asked whether they had difficulty following spoken or written instructions, whether they had more trouble than usual following a group conversation or TV program due to memory problems, or whether they had trouble finding their way around familiar streets.
"Getting lost," in particular, was highly associated with cognitive impairment. Women who reported they had gotten lost in familiar neighborhoods tended to score significantly lower on cognitive tests similar to those used to detect signs of Alzheimer's. Having trouble keeping up with a group conversation and difficulty following instructions were also strongly associated -- though not as highly -- with cognitive impairment.
On the other hand, forgetting things from one moment to the next was not associated with any decline in measure of cognitive function.
But the more complaints a woman had, the more likely she was to score poorly on the test administered by investigators. Each additional complaint was associated with a 20 percent increase in cognitive impairment. (The complaint of forgetting one moment to the next had a score of zero since it was not associated with impairment.)
The authors noted that the participants were all women and mostly white, however, which means that the findings may not be generalizable to other populations.
Another expert pointed out other limitations of the study.
The "senior moments" reported by the study participants were only related to how well they did on the telephone tests, not to whether or not the person had actual dementia, according to Mary Sano, professor of psychiatry and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
"This may overstate the problem, which also is not a good t
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