Note: age-related memory loss is sometimes called age-related cognitive impairment, age-associated memory impairment, age-consistent memory decline, aging-associated cognitive decline, or late life forgetfulness
It’s common to have some memory loss as you get older. But how much memory loss is “normal”? That’s what a group of experts brought together by the U.S. National Institutes of Mental Health in the 1980s tried to figure out.
They proposed that a person could be considered to have “Age-Associated Memory Impairment” if he:
*Is over 50 years old
*Has noticed that his memory was worse than when he was younger, but doesn’t have dementia
*Performs worse than younger adults on standard memory tests
*Isn’t depressed and
*Doesn’t have a medical condition that could cause his memory loss.
In the 1990s, another group of experts convened by the International Psychogeriatric Association and the World Health Organization proposed related criteria for “ageing-associated cognitive decline,” where performance on memory tests was compared to that of people in the same age group instead of younger adults.
There is no agreement among experts about these criteria, or whether age-related memory loss is a disease that should be treated.
How many people have age-related memory loss? There’s no agreement about that, either. One widely cited study (Larrabee & Crook, 1994, see link below) estimates that more than half of people over 60 have “age-associated memory impairment,” and finds that this type of memory loss is prevalent in younger groups as well. Other researchers say the criteria are too unreliable to estimate how many people have age-related memory loss.
Tangled Neuron Posts About Age-Related Memory Loss:
Read summaries of two studies that show how difficult it is to reliably diagnose age-related memory loss and similar conditions
See the discussion of age-related memory loss and diagnostic criteria in Sections 1B and 1C of the American Psychological Association’s 1998 Guidelines for the Evaluation of Dementia and Age-Related Cognitive Decline
Books About Age-Related Memory Loss