Are “senior moments” a warning sign for Alzheimer’s?

In the course of a busy day, it’s easy to forget things — a phone number, the time of an appointment, a colleague’s name. And by the way, where are the house keys?

While many of these small slips are certainly normal, new research suggests that all memory loss should be taken seriously, because it could indicate a person is at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia later in life. The clues may start emerging as long as 12 years before diagnosis, the researchers found.

The decade-long study, published in the journal Neurology, involved 531 people who were not diagnosed with dementia, who were evaluated annually. The researchers found patients who reported memory problems at some point during the 10 years were three times more likely to develop serious cognitive problems later on in life.

Approximately 56 percent of the people in the study reported some changes to their memory by around the age of 82. About 1 in 6 people developed dementia in the time study was conducted, and 80 percent of them had reported serious changes to memory early on.

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