Mild Memory Loss in the Elderly More Common in Men

More interesting news on mild cognitive impairment. New research out of the Mayo Clinic finds that with memory loss in the elderly, men experience mild loss of memory and thinking abilities more often than women. Known technically as mild cognitive impairment, which research shows can, but does not always, lead to Alzheimer’s disease, involves problems with memory and thinking beyond what’s normal for a person’s age.

This is the first large, community-based study to reveal a gender link to mental decline, and must be confirmed by further research. The work involved conducting personal interviews with a random sample of 2,050 men and women age 70 to 89 living in Olmstead County Minn.

Subjects were asked about their memory and medical history, and were then tested to assess memory, executive function, language and visuospatial skills. Data for each participant was reviewed by a panel and assigned a diagnosis of normal, mild cognitive decline or dementia using accepted diagnostic criteria.

Study lead Ronald Petersen, MD, PhD of the Mayo Clinic and his team found that mild cognitive impairment increased with age and was 1.5 times higher in men compared to women. Researchers speculate that men experience a decline in thinking earlier in their lives, but more gradually, where women may go from normal memory directly to dementia at a later age, but more rapidly than men do.

Mild cognitive impairment is the stage between normal forgetfulness of aging and the development of diagnosed dementia itself. Even though you might have problems with thinking and memory, if they don’t interfere with everyday activities and are the result of normal forgetfulness you need not be concerned. Some of the symptoms of mild cognitive decline include forgetting recent events or conversations, trouble doing more than one task at a time, trouble solving problems and taking more time to do a more difficult mental activity.

The study, published in the September 7, 2010 print issue of Neurology, found that…

- 14% of participants had mild cognitive impairment.

- Nearly 10% already had dementia.

- 76% had normal memory and thinking skills.

Continues below…

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Mild Cognitive Impairment: Who’s More At Risk, Men or Women..? Continued…

- 19% of the men had mild cognitive impairment, 14% of the women.

- 3.3% of those interviewed had a dementia that hadn’t been detected by records or other methods.

Participants in the study who were less educated, or had never been married had a higher rate of mild cognitive impairment. What’s more, those who had the ApoE e4 gene, already linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease, had an increased rate of mild cognitive impairment.

If you’re worried about mental decline as you get older, experts recommend you take steps right away to address the risk factors within your control.

You’ll want to stop smoking, control high blood pressure, eat a low fat, balanced diet, and most important of all, be active on a regular basis.

Maintaining your social contacts and engaging in activities that are enjoyable and mentally stimulating are easy, effective ways to keep memory loss in the elderly at bay.