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Memory Complaints Are Associated With Alzheimer's Disease

h. These plaques and tangles are the type of damage most closely linked to Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers found that each unit of Alzheimer-related pathology was associated with one point higher score on the memory complaint scale. 'Our results suggest that older persons with and without dementia possess some insight to their level of functioning, and this insight is related to actual changes in the brain,' said Barnes. 'The data suggests that if you’re having complaints there's probably something going on. In other words, if mom notices that there's something different about her memory, we need to listen closely and investigate further.'

The study shows that memory complaints should be taken seriously and not seen as just part of the aging process. 'In my opinion, it is possible to preserve your memory into old age,' said Barnes. 'Memory loss is not an inevitable consequence of aging.

In fact, if you think you are having memory problems, you should probably see your doctor. As Barnes noted, 'although not all memory complaints will lead to Alzheimer's disease, our data support the idea that memory complaints in older adults may represent the presence of significant Alzheimer's disease pathology in the brain.'

'I don't want to cause concern for people who experience occasional memory loss, like losing their keys or forgetting their wife's birthday,' said Barnes. 'The important point in our study was that the people who hadn't developed Alzheimer's disease by the time they died, but complained about their memory performance, already had Alzheimer's pathology in their brains. We don't know whether they might have eventually developed the disease had they lived longer. The data suggest, however, that memory complaints may be an early sign of disease in some people.'

The researchers at Rush are grateful for the remarkable dedication and altruism of the volunteers participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. T
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