Being unaware of memory loss is actually an important warning sign for developing Alzheimer’s disease, new research finds.
People who were unaware of their own memory problems — known as anosognosia — were 64% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s within 5 years.
On the other hand, if you are worried about memory loss, but your partner isn’t, then it’s probably not Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Philip Gerretsen, the study’s lead author, said:
“If patients complain of memory problems, but their partner or caregiver isn’t overly concerned, it’s likely that the memory loss is due to other factors, possibly depression or anxiety.
They can be reassured that they are unlikely to develop dementia, and the other causes of memory loss should be addressed.”
The conclusions come from the largest ever study on the self-awareness of dementia.
Over one thousand people aged 55 to 90 were involved.
Being unaware of memory problems predicted the shift from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers found.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Gerretsen et al., 2017).