Health: forgetfulness in middle age – a harbinger of dementia?

Gaps in short-term memory: Those who often can’t think of things in middle age are said to have an increased risk of dementia later on.

Where had I misplaced the key again? What was that important password again? Occasional problems with it short-term memory in everyday life – most of you probably know that. However, if such supposedly harmless clumsiness is already noticeable to you from the middle of life and this happens regularly, then this can be a harbinger of a later illness.

Study: Gaps in short-term memory – increased risk of dementia

Gaps in short-term memory in middle age can be early signs of later dementia be. Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg found that people who self-report problems with their short-term memory have a significantly increased risk of developing the disease.

The experts examined data from almost 6,200 people aged 50 to 75, as they write in the journal “Age and Aging”. In another study between 2000 and 2002, they provided information on how they assess the ability of their short-term memory and their long-term memory. In the 17 years that followed, her health was checked again and again.

The result: those who reported problems with short-term memory at the time had up to twice as much as the rest of the group risklater develop dementia. This also applied to the age group between 50 and 64, i.e. middle-aged people, as the researchers write. A total of 492 study participants developed dementia during the 17-year follow-up period.

Later dementia: Depression another risk factor

“Subjectively perceived problems with short-term memory can indicate an increased risk of dementia in people from the age of 50 years – and this many years before the diagnosis is made,” said the scientist involved in the study, Hermann Brenner, head of the Department of Aging Research DKFZ.

According to the study, those who also suffered from depression in addition to short-term memory disorders had an even higher risk of dementia later on. A connection between problems of long-term memory and dementia did not show up in the evaluated age groups.

For significantly older people, it was previously considered proven that the risk of dementia increases with disorders of both the short-term memory and the long-term memory.


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