is normal for individuals to show some decline in memory due
to aging. This decline has been termed age-associated
memory impairment (AAMI), and typically affects memory
for new information, such as the names of people you have
recently met. People are diagnosed with AAMI if their memory
decline is within the limits of what is considered "normal"
for their age group.
When an individual's memory declines below
the level considered normal for that age group, there may
be a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). People
with MCI show more severe memory lapses than would be expected
for their age. Memory lapses indicative of MCI would include
repeatedly missing appointments, telling the same joke over
and over again, or forgetting the names of close colleagues.
In other words, a diagnosis of MCI is made when a person's
memory impairment begins to interfere with the activities
of daily living.
Recent research has suggested that about 12 percent of people
aged 65 or older diagnosed with MCI go on to develop Alzheimer's
disease within a year; about 40% develop Alzheimer's within
three years. This is a much higher rate than in the general
population: only about 1% of all healthy people over 65 develop
Alzheimer's each year. Thus, people with MCI are considered
at heightened risk to develop Alzheimer's disease.
The National Institute on Aging is currently
conducting a large-scale clinical
study to determine if the Alzheimer's drug donepezil and
vitamin E are
useful in delaying or preventing people with MCI from developing
Forgetfulness in Old Age: It's Not What
You Think. National Institute on Aging, 1993. U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.
Article : "CROSSING
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain