Dementia is drama, suffering, struggle, trials and tribulations but most of all, dementia is memory loss. A new study has revealed that people who suffer from dementia could start to lose their memory up to three years before the disease kicks in.
Unawareness of one’s memory issues is an unavoidable feature of late-life dementia, driven by a buildup of dementia-related changes in the brain.
The revealing study involved 2.092 participants from three ongoing studies that have separately followed older adults for more than 10 years. At some point in the disease’s evolution, basically everyone has a lack of awareness of their memory problems. There is a certain moment when people lose track of their memories, they miss the link of logic and flow in the brain and that is the very moment when dementia sets in.
Researchers have registered memory ratings in more than 2000 study participants and they further correlated the results with memory performance, as Robert Wilson, PhD of Rush Medical Center in Chicago has reported. The team of experts has regressed each person’s memory performance based on the previous memory ratings and the data has provided longitudinal indicators of memory awareness.
This is a highly important finding, as medical experts could track the signs of dementia since its early stages and provide a suitable treatment for the disease, in order to prevent complications or rapid evolution.
According to further data, in a sub group of 239 people who developed dementia, episodic memory awareness is stable until 2.6 years before the complete onset of the affection. After this limit, memory awareness declines at a very fast pace. The entire set of results can be found in the journal Neurology.
What’s most surprising is that memory unawareness begins earlier in younger people compared to older ones and it could be as older people are more likely to expect memory loss as a normal consequence of aging. Analyses also revealed that being unaware of one’s own memory impairment is associated with postmortem evidence of transactive response DNA-binding protein pathology and gross cerebral infarcts.
The entire set of results was gathered after researchers have taken data and analyzed three other important studies. First, there is the Religious Order study, which has started in 1994 and enrolled old nuns, priests and brothers from groups across the US. The second part of the extended study was The Rush University Memory and Aging Project, which began back in 1997 and gathered together older individuals from the Metropolitan Chicago area. The third research is known as The Minority Aging Research Study, which started back in 2004 and included black individuals.
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