USA study: 1 in 8 report increasing confusion or memory loss

13 May 2013 - New results from a study in the USA have shown that one in eight adults aged 60 and over report increased confusion or memory loss in the previous 12 months. This is according to data just released from 21 US states that used the optional Cognitive Module as part of the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

Among those reporting increased confusion or memory loss, only 19.3 percent said they had discussed these changes with a health care provider. Memory loss varied by population groups and was highest among those unable to work, individuals with disabilities, and Hispanics.

Results also show that about one-third of those with memory loss were living alone. And, among those reporting increased confusion or memory loss, 35.2 percent reported that the memory problems caused functional difficulties, such as with the ability to work or engage in household chores.

Memory problems are often the first signs of greater cognitive health issues, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The small percentage of people who have talked to a health care professional about their worsening memory problems highlights an important issue for the public health community to address: encouraging early and accurate detection and diagnosis. Talking about memory problems and possible cognitive decline with health care providers enables earlier diagnosis, which in turn enables individuals and their families to plan for the future and allows for the better management of co-occurring chronic conditions. One national effort in the USA to increase awareness about early detection is the Know the 10 Signs campaign.

To read the full Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) click here. For more information on the Cognitive Module, or surveillance in general, contact Catherine Morrison.