Approximately one out of every eight baby boomers has experienced increasing issues with their memory over the past year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In a first-of-its-kind study, the CDC examined the self-reported survey data of 59,000 American adults, aged 60 and older, to discover how many of them were struggling with cognitive problems.
Some examples of the main questions asked by researchers: "During the past 12 months, have you experienced confusion or memory loss that is happening more often, or is getting worse?" and "Does your confusion or memory loss interfere with your ability to work, volunteer or engage in social activities?"
The 33-question survey yielded some interesting statistics:
- Overall, nearly 13 percent of people 60-years-old and older felt that their memory had been on the fritz for at least a year.
- Of those with memory woes, more than 35 percent reported having difficulty performing tasks, including daily household chores, work assignments, and volunteer activities. Surprisingly, study authors found that younger people (those 60-to 64-years-old) who struggled with memory loss were significantly more likely to report having trouble with daily tasks than those aged 65 and over who admitted to having similar issues.
- Thirty-three percent of people who had trouble with regular tasks also admitted that their cognitive impairment was so severe that it prevented them from being able to work.
- Individuals living in certain states were more likely to admit they were having cognitive issues. For example, 20 percent of Arkansas natives reported their struggle with memory problems, while only six percent of Tennessee dwellers copped to their decreased cognition.
- Even those people who were dealing with memory issues that disrupted their daily life appeared reluctant to communicate their concerns with a health care provider. Only 33 percent of those reporting significant issues with their cognition said that they had spoken with their doctor about the problem.
Study authors are quick to mention that the self-reported nature of this study lends itself to certain biases, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt.
They do note, however, that the results yield interesting preliminary insight into why so many cases of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia—an estimated 66 percent—go undiagnosed. The fear and stigma surrounding Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia has become so profound that it may prevent people from seeking a diagnosis.
This is an especially important problem to solve, because dementia can be caused by a variety of different (and sometimes reversible) issues. Among the elderly especially, something as simple as a urinary tract infection can cause symptoms of delirium and dementia. (Discover some of the common signs of dementia.)
If you, or your loved one is experiencing an increase in memory or cognitive issues, it's a good idea to consult a medical professional who can help you discover the source of the problem, and identify possible solutions.