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Do You Know when You Don’t Know?

May 6, 2016

We are often asked if people with dementia are aware of the fact that they are forgetting things.  In the early and mid-stages stages of dementia, people are definitely aware that their cognitive ability is slipping.  At some point, however, they lose the ability to discern this.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 5.58.58 PMA recent study determined that one’s awareness of memory impairment starts deteriorating about 2.5 years before dementia is diagnosed.

Every year, study participants underwent a battery of memory tests.   Each year they were asked how often they had trouble remembering things and how their memory compared to a decade before.   Researchers compared the self-assessments with their actual performance on memory tests.

The results provide insight into something that sometimes baffles researchers.  Many people who develop dementia don’t develop depression at the same time.  The lead physician commented, “They’re not that aware of the loss that has occurred and that’s probably in some ways a good thing.”

He continued that there appears to be truth to the clinical rule of thumb that if you have memory problems and are worried about them, you’re probably still okay.

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