Awareness of memory abilities in community-dwelling older adults with suspected dementia and mild cognitive impairment


Lin F, Wharton W, Dowling NM, Ries ML, Johnson SC, Carlsson CM, Asthana S, Gleason CE

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2010;30(1):83-92

Abstract

AIMS: To examine awareness of memory abilities by groups (healthy control, suspected dementia/mild cognitive impairment, MCI, and diagnosed dementia/MCI), and to describe group differences in the relationship between awareness and cognitive performance in a community sample. METHODS: In a cross-sectional design, 183 subjects were evaluated in a community setting and categorized into 3 groups based on their cognitive performance and reported medical history. Awareness of memory abilities was quantified using a published anosognosia ratio (AR) comparing the estimated to the objective memory performance by subjects. Each group was further categorized into 'overestimators', 'accurate estimators', and 'underestimators' based on their AR scores. RESULTS: The suspected and diagnosed dementia/MCI groups had significantly higher AR scores than the controls. The suspected group also had a significantly larger proportion (96.2%) of overestimators than the diagnosed (73.3%) and control groups (26.1%). Impaired awareness in overestimators of the suspected and diagnosed groups was correlated with deficits in executive function, language or global cognition. CONCLUSION: Impaired awareness of memory abilities was prevalent in community-dwelling older adults with suspected and diagnosed dementia or MCI. Those with suspected dementia or MCI were more likely to overestimate their memory abilities than their diagnosed counterparts, suggesting that limited awareness of deficits may hinder utilization of dementia diagnostic services

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