Be Healthy in 20 Years: Are You Too Forgetful?

Occasional forgetfulness vs. mild cognitive impairment

by Joan Raymond
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Photograph: Shutterstock.com

Having a “senior moment” when you’re in the prime of your life can be a little unnerving. You can attribute occasional forgetfulness (where did I park my car?) to a life that’s filled with too much to do. But forgetting the basics, such as why you drove to the store in the first place, especially if this happens a lot, could signal a problem, possibly mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Rare among people ages 40 to 60, MCI is a condition that falls in the middle of the spectrum between the normal cognitive changes that come with aging and full-blown dementia.

If you’re concerned about too-frequent lapses, or if family and friends notice a progressive decline in memory, it’s a good idea to check in with a doctor who specializes in memory issues, says neuroscientist Michael W. Weiner, MD, professor of medicine, radiology and psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco. Not all people diagnosed with MCI progress to Alzheimer’s disease, though they are at higher risk. “Many patients remain stable, and some actually improve,” says Weiner, who serves as lead investigator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI; adni-info.org), which is recruiting subjects 60 and older to test and follow for at least five years (no drugs are involved).

Photo courtesy of Timothy Boomer/Shutterstock.com

Next: Anti-aging Tactic #3: Eat More Plant-Based Foods that May Fend Off Chronic Diseases

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First published in the May 2012 issue

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